When it comes to autonomous trucking, the future is still unknown. However, that future is beginning to come into focus.
On Oct. 4, the Commercial Vehicle Safety Alliance announced a new enhanced commercial vehicle inspection program for carriers utilizing autonomous vehicles. The new program – which was approved by the CVSA Board of Directors on Sept. 22 – outlines standards and procedures for inspections of commercial motor vehicles equipped with automated driving systems.
“This enhanced inspection procedure for driverless commercial motor vehicles will ensure the highest level of safety and provide law enforcement with the information they need to be confident about the roadworthiness of autonomous trucks operating on our roadways,” CVSA President Chris Nordloh, a major with the Texas Department of Public Safety, said in a statement.
In addition to the new standards, carriers operating autonomous vehicles will be required to have trained personnel to complete the inspections. These employees must undergo a 40-hour CVSA training course and exam on the new inspection procedures.
According to CVSA, the need for a separate set of standards for autonomous vehicles was obvious.
“Roadside inspection/weigh station environments are challenging for (automated driving systems)-equipped vehicles,” the agency said, “those commercial motor vehicles are not compatible with today’s roadside enforcement inspections, which rely on assistance from the driver.”
Under the new program, CVSA-trained personnel will conduct the enhanced commercial motor vehicle inspection procedure on vehicles equipped with automated driving systems at the point of origin before dispatch. Any truck or trailer or commercial motor vehicle combination that fails inspection at the point of dispatch must be repaired. In-transit inspections will also occur at a dictated interval throughout the trip. The autonomous commercial vehicles will bypass inspection and weigh stations along their route.
Once on the road, the autonomous vehicle is required to communicate to law enforcement while in-motion. The vehicle is required to let officers know:
- It passed the origin/destination inspection.
- Its automated driving systems are functioning.
- It is operating within its operational design domain.
In addition, all automated driving system-equipped vehicles must be able to respond to law enforcement in the event an officer attempts to pull over the vehicle. According to CVSA, “en-route roadside inspections of ADS vehicles by law enforcement officials would be limited to situations where an imminent hazard is observed or during a post-crash investigation.” LL