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NHTSA Releases Draft Test Procedures for Advanced Driver Assistance Systems

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On November 21, 2019, the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration (“NHTSA”) released nine draft test procedures intended to help evaluate certain types of Advanced Driver Assistance Systems (“ADAS”). NHTSA is seeking public comment regarding the adequacy of these test procedures by January 21, 2020. The draft procedures are research-focused, with NHTSA intending to “research ways to objectively and practically assess the performance” of certain ADAS technologies in the United States.

What technologies are being assessed? The draft test procedures focus on nine different ADAS technologies presently available to consumers on certain vehicles sold in the United States. For light vehicles, the technologies being assessed are: active parking assist, blind spot detection, blind spot intervention, intersection safety assist, opposing traffic safety assist, pedestrian automatic emergency braking, rear automatic braking, and traffic jam assist. For heavy vehicles, NHTSA will assess forward collision warning and automatic emergency braking.

What do the test procedures entail? The test procedures are made up of “test scenarios designed to emulate real-world crash-imminent situations” and are conducted in controlled settings. Each draft procedure includes specifications regarding the equipment, facilities, instructions, tolerances, and other details to perform the test.

For example, the draft procedure for pedestrian automatic emergency braking systems evaluates the systems’ performance in the two most common crash types involving pedestrians: where the pedestrian crosses the road in front of the vehicle and where the pedestrian walks on the side of the road in the path of the vehicle. The test procedure details the road and weather conditions, vehicle specifications, pedestrian mannequin specifications, and other conditions. The detailed and controlled nature of the procedures is aimed at ensuring the tests are carried out consistently and objectively.

What does this mean? Currently, NHTSA does not plan to make rules regarding the ADAS technologies. Instead, NHTSA intends only to conduct research to better understand the technologies’ operation, performance, and potential limitations. “[T]he fact that NHTSA is researching a specific technology is not an indication that it will now or at any time initiate a rulemaking related to that technology or include that technology as part of NCAP.”

Moreover, NHTSA does not intend to stamp its approval or disapproval on the technologies. “While the procedures include draft evaluation criteria, there are no pass/fail assessments provided because they have been assembled for research purposes only.” Nevertheless, the process could potentially affect the development and implementation of ADAS technologies depending on the outcome of the research.

The draft procedures and more information can be found here –