As 2021 comes to a close, we will be sharing the key legislative and regulatory updates for artificial intelligence (“AI”), the Internet of Things (“IoT”), connected and automated vehicles (“CAVs”), and privacy this month. Lawmakers introduced a range of proposals to regulate AI, IoT, CAVs, and privacy as well as appropriate funds to study developments in these emerging spaces. In addition, from developing a consumer labeling program for IoT devices to requiring the manufacturers and operators of CAVs to report crashes, federal agencies have promulgated new rules and issued guidance to promote consumer awareness and safety. We are providing this year-end round up in four parts. In this post, we detail CAV updates in Congress and federal agencies.
Part III: Connected and Autonomous Vehicles
This year, Congress focused on the safe deployment of CAVs, including the safety of vulnerable road users. For example, the Infrastructure Investment and Jobs Act (H.R. 3684), a key pillar of President Biden’s legislative agenda that became law last month, not only focuses on rebuilding U.S. roads, bridges, and rails, but also implicates automated vehicle technology by requiring the U.S. Department of Transportation to research the impacts of self-driving vehicles on urban and rural roads as well as on connected vehicle technology, with a focus on incorporating bicyclists and other vulnerable road users into the safe development of CAVs. The Secretary of Transportation will convene and consult with a panel of national experts in rural and urban transportation, including (i) self-driving vehicle producers, manufacturers, and technology developers, (ii) States and State departments of transportation, (iii) metropolitan planning organizations, (iv) the motor carrier industry, (v) representatives of public transportation agencies or organizations, (vi) highway safety and academic groups, (vii) nonprofit entities with experience in transportation policy, and (viii) environmental stakeholders, among others.
In terms of legislative proposals, Senator Catherine Cortez Masto (D-NV) introduced the New, Emerging, and Exciting Technologies in Transportation (NEXT) Act (S. 3067), which would create an online, public-facing resource center to help state and local communities develop intelligent transportation programs. The bill would also establish the “Strengthening Mobility and Revolutionizing Transportation Grant Program,” which would provide grants for projects focused on advancing smart city or community technologies to improve transportation efficiency and safety. In addition, Senator Brian Schatz (D-HI) introduced the Vulnerable Road Users Safety Act (S.2496), which would direct the Administrator of the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration (“NHTSA”) and the Administrator of the Federal Highway Administration (“FHA”) to implement certain recommendations of the National Transportation Safety Board relating to, among other topics, connected vehicle technology and performance standards for automated pedestrian detection systems such as automatic braking sensors.
Regulators have also been active with respect to CAVs this year. NHTSA issued a Standing General Order and Amended Standing General Order requiring the manufacturers and operators of CAVs to report crashes to the regulatory agency. As further detailed in our August blog post, this order applies to vehicles equipped with SAE Level 2 advanced driver assistance systems (“ADAS”), which includes common safety features such as adaptive cruise control and lane-keeping assistance, and SAE Levels 3-5 automated driving systems (“ADS”) (i.e., conditional to full driving automation). Incidents that meet certain criteria (e.g., crash on a publicly accessible road, results in a hospital treated injury, fatality, or vehicle tow-away, etc.) require submission of an incident report by the manufacturer and operator.
Finally, the Department of Interior (“DOI”) and Department of Transportation (“DOT”) signed a Memorandum of Understanding to integrate new technologies into park environments to enhance the visitor experience. The memo set out a few projects, including establishing pilots for innovative mobility technologies to identify and resolve challenges related to operating advanced transportation technologies within national parks. The findings from these projects aim to allow the safe integration of new technologies into the transportation system.
We will continue to update you on meaningful developments in these updates and across our blogs. To learn more about our CAV team and work, please visit Covington’s Connected and Autonomous Vehicles website. For more information on developments related to AI, IoT, and data privacy, please visit our AI Toolkit and our Internet of Things and Data Privacy and Cybersecurity websites.