« Daimler Buses to bring BEV and fuel cell buses to production standard and on the road by 2018 | Main | Argonne LCA study finds many alternative fuels consume more water than petroleum and natural gas fuels » The US Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) and National Highway Traffic Safety Administration (NHTSA) have issued a Notice of Data Availability (NODA) related to the Phase 2 Heavy-Duty National Program proposed in July 2015 (earlier post) to reduce greenhouse gas emissions and fuel consumption for new on-road heavy-duty vehicles and engines. This NODA provides an opportunity to comment on the new information being made available by the EPA and by NHTSA, including memoranda and data, which been placed in the public dockets. Data relating to the potential stringency of the proposed standards includes: Docket IDs are EPA–HQ–OAR–2014–0827 (for EPA’s docket) and NHTSA–2014–0132 (for NHTSA’s docket). The two agencies are also soliciting additional comment on certain revised test reports, and a revised version of the Greenhouse Gas Emission Model (GEM) used both in developing certain of the proposed standards and in demonstrating compliance with those standards. Additionally, EPA is soliciting further comment on memoranda relating to standard applicability and implementation. These memoranda address potential requirements for selective enforcement audits and confirmatory testing related to greenhouse gas emissions, and applicability of emission standards and certification responsibilities for trailers, glider vehicles, and glider kits. Background. As proposed in 2015, the Phase 2 vehicle and engine performance standards would cover model years 2021-2027, and apply to semi-trucks, large pickup trucks and vans, and all types and sizes of buses and work trucks. They would achieve up to 24% lower CO emissions and fuel consumption than an equivalent tractor in 2018, based on the fully phased-in standards for the tractor alone in a tractor-trailer vehicle.
The voluntary agreement with 20 car manufacturers means that the important safety technology will be available more quickly than if the government had gone through the lengthy process of issuing mandatory rules, said Mark Rosekind, head of the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration. However, some safety advocates have filed a petition asking the government to issue mandatory regulations. They say voluntary agreements aren't enforceable, and that since automatic braking is already available in some cars, issuing rules requiring the technology could be done faster than the six to eight years allowed under the agreement. Automatic braking systems use cameras, radar and other sensors to see objects that are in the way and slow or stop a vehicle if the driver doesn't react. It's the most important safety technology currently available that's not already required in cars. "A commitment of this magnitude is unprecedented, and it will bring more safety to more Americans sooner," Rosekind said. Deborah Hersman, president of the National Safety Council, said the agreement "has the potential to save more lives than almost anything else we can accomplish in the next six years." There are about 1.7 million rear-end crashes a year in the U.S., killing more than 200 people, injuring 400,000 others and costing about $47 billion. More than half of those crashes could be avoided or mitigated by automatic braking or systems that warn drivers of an impending collision, NHTSA has estimated. Of the 194 most popular vehicle models already on the market, 17 come with automatic braking as standard equipment. It is available as part of an options package in 71 other models. The reason automakers don't want to be required to put automatic braking into vehicles sooner than the six to eight years promised in the voluntary agreement is that they don't want to have to redesign vehicles and change production schedules sooner than planned, said safety advocate Joan Claybrook, a former NHTSA administrator. "This six- to nine-year lead time is all about the auto companies saving money," she said. The agreement requires that automatic braking be standard in most cars and light trucks with weighing up to 8,500 pounds no later than Sept. 1, 2022. The braking would have to be standard on nearly SUVs and pickup trucks with weighing between 8,501 and 10,000 pounds beginning no later than Sept. 1, 2025. NHTSA estimates that the agreement will make automatic braking standard on new cars three years faster than could be achieved through the formal regulatory process. During those three years, according to Insurance Institute for Highway Safety estimates, the technology will prevent 28,000 more crashes and 12,000 more injuries than without the agreement. However, the standards for how effective the brakes must be are set so low under the agreement that few if any lives will be saved, said Clarence Ditlow, executive director of the Center for Auto Safety. Explore further: Automakers commit to put automatic brakes in all cars
« Series production of next-generation Acura NSX hybrid supercar begins in April at new Performance Manufacturing Center | Main | Nevs in strategic cooperation with China’s State Grid for EVs » The US Department of Transportation’s National Highway Traffic Safety Administration (NHTSA) and the Insurance Institute for Highway Safety (IIHS) announced the commitment by 20 automakers representing more than 99% of the US. auto market to make automatic emergency braking (AEB) a standard feature on virtually all new cars in the US no later than NHTSA’s 2022 reporting year, which begins 1 Sept 2022. Automakers making the commitment are Audi; BMW; FCA US LLC; Ford; General Motors; Honda; Hyundai; Jaguar Land Rover; Kia; Maserati; Mazda; Mercedes-Benz; Mitsubishi Motors; Nissan; Porsche; Subaru; Tesla Motors; Toyota; Volkswagen; and Volvo Car USA. The unprecedented commitment means that this important safety technology will be available to more consumers more quickly than would be possible through the regulatory process. Automatic emergency braking helps prevent crashes or reduce their severity by applying a vehicle’s brakes automatically. The systems use on-board sensors such as radar, cameras or lasers to detect an imminent crash, warn the driver, and apply the brakes or increase braking effort if the driver does not take sufficient action. NHTSA estimates that the agreement will make AEB standard on new cars three years faster than could be achieved through the formal regulatory process. During those three years, according to IIHS estimates, the commitment will prevent 28,000 crashes and 12,000 injuries. The commitment will make AEB standard on virtually all light-duty cars and trucks with a gross vehicle weight of 8,500 lbs (3,856 kg) or less beginning no later than 1 Sept. 2022. AEB will be standard on virtually all trucks with a gross vehicle weight between 8,501 lbs. and 10,000 lbs (4,536 kg) beginning no later than 1 Sept. 2025. Participating manufacturers will ensure vehicles have both a forward collision warning system that meets a subset of the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration's current 5-Star Safety Ratings program requirements on the timing of driver alerts and an automatic braking system that earns at least an advanced rating in the current Insurance Institute for Highway Safety front crash prevention track tests. The baseline performance measures are a speed reduction of at least 10 mph (16 km/h) in either the IIHS 12 or 25 mph (19 or 40 km/h) tests, or a speed reduction of 5 mph (8 km/h) in both of the tests. As NHTSA continues its regulatory work in this area, NHTSA will track the progress industry is making towards its commitment. The commitment takes into account the evolution of AEB technology. It requires a level of functionality that is in line with research and crash data demonstrating that such systems are substantially reducing crashes, but does not stand in the way of improved capabilities that are just beginning to emerge. The performance measures are based on real world data showing that vehicles with this level of capability are avoiding crashes. To encourage further development of AEB technology, NHTSA will accelerate its research on more advanced AEB applications, including systems that reduce the risk of collisions with pedestrians. In December, NHTSA announced plans to rate AEB systems and other advanced technologies under its 5-Star Safety Ratings beginning in model year 2018. Based on mounting evidence that AEB effectively reduced crashes and injuries in the US and around the world, NHTSA and IIHS issued a challenge to industry in September 2015 to encourage automakers to voluntarily make AEB a standard feature. A series of meetings followed to establish details of the commitment. NHTSA and IIHS also announced that Consumer Reports will assist in monitoring automaker progress toward meeting the AEB commitment.
Federal rules could lay out how cars decide whom to protect or harm in a crash. Rapid progress on autonomous driving has led to concerns that future vehicles will have to make ethical choices, for example whether to swerve to avoid a crash if it would cause serious harm to people outside the vehicle. Christopher Hart, chairman of the National Transportation Safety Board, is one of them. He told MIT Technology Review that federal regulations will be required to set the basic morals of autonomous vehicles, as well as safety standards for how reliable they must be. Hart said the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration (NHTSA) will likely require designers of self-driving cars to build in fail-safes for critical components of their vehicles, similar to how aircraft manufacturers do. “The government is going to have to come into play and say, ‘You need to show me a less than X likelihood of failure, or you need to show me a fail-safe that ensures that this failure won’t kill people,” said Hart. Hart also said there would need to be rules for how ethical prerogatives are encoded into software. He gave the example of a self-driving car faced with a decision between a potentially fatal collision with an out-of-control truck or heading up on the sidewalk and hitting pedestrians. “That to me is going to take a federal government response to address,” said Hart. “Those kinds of ethical choices will be inevitable.” That NHTSA has been evaluating how it will regulate driverless cars for the past eight months, and will release guidance in the near future. The agency hasn't so far discussed ethical concerns about automated driving. What regulation exists for self-driving cars comes from states such as California, and is targeted at the prototype vehicles being tested by companies such as Alphabet and Uber. California requires that a safety driver always be ready to take over, and that a company file reports detailing incidents where a human needed to step in. Ryan Calo, an expert on robotics law at the University of Washington, is skeptical that it’s possible to translate the so-far theoretical ethical discussions into practical rules or system designs. He doesn’t think autonomous cars are sophisticated enough to understand the different factors a human would in a real-life situation. Calo believes the real quandary is whether we are willing to deploy vehicles that will prevent many accidents but also make occasional deadly blunders that no human would. “If it encounters a shopping cart and a stroller at the same time, it won’t be able to make a moral decision that groceries are less important than people,” says Calo. “But what if it’s saving tens of thousands of lives overall because it’s safer than people?” Patrick Lin, a philosophy professor at Cal Poly State University, San Luis Obispo, who has studied ethics and autonomous driving with the nonprofit arm of Daimler-Benz, says the idea of cars making ethical deliberations should not be so quickly dismissed. Progress in sensors, artificial intelligence, and facial recognition software will likely lead to cars capable of deciding to save one life and sacrifice another, he says. “It’s better if we proactively try to anticipate and manage the problem before we actually get there,” Lin says. “This is the kind of thing that’s going to make for a lawsuit that could destroy a company or leave a huge black mark on the industry.” Federal standards in ethics or other safety aspects could also bring some transparency to how driverless cars make decisions. Lin says that car manufacturers generally want to keep the inner workings of their vehicles’ software secret from hackers and competitors. “Car manufacturers are notoriously secretive about their programming and their crash optimization thinking,” he says.
News Article | July 1, 2016
In a blog post, Tesla Motors revealed that the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration has launched an investigation into the company's Autopilot system, as a Model S electric vehicle driver was killed in an accident while the feature was turned on. The incident is said to be the first death related to a self-driving car, and it happened to a man who Tesla Motors said was a friend to the company and to the entire electric vehicle community. Tesla Motors narrated the incident that led to the fatal car crash. According to what the company knows, the driver was travelling on a divided highway while his Tesla Model S was in Autopilot mode. A tractor trailer then drove across the highway where the electric vehicle was on. Because the tractor trailer's side was colored white, and the sky behind it was bright, the Autopilot system was not able to detect the oncoming vehicle and the brake was not applied. The company said that the Tesla Model S passed under the tractor trailer, with the windshield of the Tesla Model S hitting the bottom of the trailer. The height of the trailer and its position in the road led to the rare circumstance of such an impact on the electric vehicle that led to the driver's death. If the front or the back of the Tesla Model S crashed into the trailer, the advanced crash safety system of the electric vehicle could likely save the driver's life, as what happened in an incident reported in May that saw all five passengers of the Tesla Model S survive a horrific crash. Tesla Motors added that the Autopilot system requires drivers to always keep their hands on the steering wheel so that they would be able to take control of the vehicle at any time. The system frequently checks if the driver's hands are on the steering wheel, and it will provide alerts and slow down the vehicle if it detects otherwise. The fatal crash, which occurred in Florida on May 7, will see the NHTSA examine the design and the performance of the Autopilot system of Tesla Motors, which has previously been criticized by self-driving car technology experts as launched too early. Analysts said that the first death caused by a self-driving car should remind drivers that the technology is not yet fully dependable. "We do not yet have fully autonomous cars," said Kelley Blue Book senior analyst Karl Brauer. "It might be this tragic event starts a kind of movement of educating consumers." © 2016 Tech Times, All rights reserved. Do not reproduce without permission.