WASHINGTON (Nov. 17, 2016) — The federal government must clarify certain points of its Federal Automated Vehicle Policy (FAVP) for the benefit of auto and auto parts manufacturers, a top official of the Motor & Equipment Manufacturers Association (MEMA) told a congressional subcommittee.
Since more than 94 percent of road accidents are caused by human error, the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration (NHTSA) and all industry stakeholders must work together to ensure that self-driving vehicle technology improves the safety and mobility of all road users, said MEMA Senior Vice President Ann Wilson before a Nov. 16 hearing of the House Energy & Commerce Subcommittee on Commerce, Manufacturing and Trade.
Though voluntary, the FAVP establishes de facto criteria that the vehicle industry and its stakeholders will use going forward, according to Ms. Wilson. “Therefore, it is very important to get the foundational policy as clear as possible in these early stages for all entities to prevent uncertainty from inadvertently delaying technology development,” she said.
Among other things, the NHTSA policy must differentiate between automated vehicle (AV) systems used exclusively for testing and evaluation by trained professionals and those intended to be sold to the public—which it currently does not delineate, Ms. Wilson said.
“The AV policy does not make a distinction between test vehicles and production vehicles,” she continued. “It is important that the agency acknowledge and delineate these key differences as it relates to the expectations of the safety assessments and other measures to the policy.”
NHTSA must also clarify the responsibilities for auto parts suppliers versus original equipment manufacturers under the AV policy, according to Ms. Wilson.
“Original equipment suppliers do not have visibility into the full scope of issues to properly assess performance once it has been integrated in production vehicles,” she said. “A supplier may create a system independent of their OEM customer, or a supplier may create and develop a system collaboratively either with another supplier and/or with their OEM customer.
“Once the customer has it integrated with a production vehicle's system, there are factors that are unknown to the supplier,” she said.