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Road Improvements Ahead: DOT's AV Guidance "3.0" Advances Infrastructure Communications and Commercial Vehicle Criteria

The U.S. Department of Transportation (DOT) has released its third round of guidance for autonomous vehicles, Preparing for the Future of Transportation: Automated Vehicles 3.0 (AV 3.0).

AV 3.0 builds upon the prior AV 2.0 guidance and is expressly designed to supplement, rather than replace, that prior guidance. As a purported evolutionary step, AV 3.0 distinctly advances vehicle-to-infrastructure communications and commercial vehicle applications by calling for the development of standards and voluntary data exchanges between the public and private sector.

The guidance also emphasizes DOT's commitment to preserving the 5.9 GHz spectrum (5G) for use by transportation safety systems. To the extent that the emphasis remains dependent upon voluntary development and adherence to best practices, however, the guidance is largely aspirational. DOT continues to urge state and local authorities to remove barriers to autonomous vehicle development and to refrain from enacting incompatible patchwork regulations.

AV 3.0 does advance a few concrete positions by which DOT will take affirmative steps in the near future to foster the development and deployment of autonomous vehicles. Acknowledging that the current Federal Motor Vehicle Safety Standards (FMVSS) are incompatible with the future of fully autonomous vehicles, AV 3.0 announces that the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration (NHTSA) will issue a proposed rule seeking comment on proposed changes to certain FMVSS to remove regulatory barriers. Among the proposed changes are amendments to the definitions of "driver" or "operator" to account for non-human operation of vehicles.

According to the most recent DOT significant rulemakings report, NHTSA is expected to put forward that proposed rulemaking at the end of the month.

Copyright © by Ballard Spahr LLPNational Law Review, Volume VIII, Number 281


About this Author

Neal Walters, Products Liability, New Jersey, Attorney, Lawyer, Ballard Spahr, Law Firm

Neal Walters is the Practice Leader of Ballard Spahr's Product Liability and Mass Tort Group, and a member of the firm's Manufacturing and Retail Industry Groups. Mr. Walters has a diverse trial and litigation practice focused on protecting product companies, as well as clients involved in technical matters, against a broad range of risks. As counsel for several consumer product manufacturers, he has defended and coordinated product liability and consumer claims, including class actions, through trial in jurisdictions across the country. He also counsels companies on contractual,...

Casey G Watkins, Product Liability Attorney, Class Action, Litigation, New Jersey, Ballard Spahr Law FIrm

Casey G. Watkins is an associate in the Litigation Department and Product Liability and Mass Tort Group. Mr. Watkins advises clients on complex regulatory and liability issues, class-action suits, and matters regarding consumer products and manufacturing. Mr. Watkins litigates on behalf of clients in the automotive, consumer products, energy, and financial industries.

Prior to attending law school, Mr. Watkins gained experience drafting technical specifications and drawings in the engineering industry. He also has experience as a certified automotive parts professional with significant knowledge of a wide range of vehicle component systems.