United States: NHTSA Automated Vehicle Guidance 3.0 – Promote Autonomous Vehicles/Muddy The Way For Connected Vehicles And Infrastructure

Last Updated: October 25 2018
Article by Richard A. Wilhelm

NHTSA just published the third iteration of its policy/guidance for automated vehicles. The focus of the guidance continues to evolve.

In its initial form, the most significant focus of the guidance was on the safe performance of automated vehicles. The guidance requested that AV manufacturers voluntarily provide reports to NHTSA, in the form of safety assessment letters, explaining whether the manufacturer considered 15 safety elements relating to AV safety, security and performance. Though voluntary, NHTSA "expected" manufacturers to submit their letters to the agency so it could review them and monitor the development and safety of such technologies before vehicles with automated driving systems (ADS) were tested on the road. Thus, the initial guidance contemplated at least some level of safety oversight by NHTSA.

The focus of guidance 2.0 veered away from the concept of safety oversight and focused more on the promotion of AVs. The guidance continued to request voluntary safety assessment letters, although the number of safety elements to be addressed in the letters decreased slightly (excluded elements included vehicle owner privacy and ethical decision-making by the ADS). But, instead of requiring that the safety assessment letters be submitted to NHTSA before testing, it told manufacturers to target the letters to states and consumers to "showcase their approach to safety." To date, only four AV manufacturers and developers have published assessment letters.

In guidance 3.0, the idea of the safety self-assessment letters survives but it is referenced in only 3 paragraphs of the 65 page document. The purpose of the letters continues to be making the motoring public more comfortable with autonomous vehicles ("building public trust, acceptance and confidence"). In the rest of the guidance, NHTSA sets out a game plan for extending automation to other modes of transportation (commercial vehicles, transit vehicles). It also focuses on the coordination it believes is required among various government agencies and other stakeholders (cities/states/highway departments) to facilitate the integration of all forms of autonomous motor vehicles into the US as quickly as possible. Finally, NHTSA describes its own role going forward. Included is making it quicker and easier for manufacturers to get waivers from compliance with existing safety standards that automated vehicles without steering wheels and foot pedals cannot meet and then ultimately revising those standards to eliminate such requirements altogether. Finally, NHTSA begins an initial discussion about the process of developing AV related safety standards.

While NHTSA has clearly taken on the role of promoting and facilitating the deployment of AVs on America's roads, it appears to be backing away from doing the same in the context of connected vehicles. In early 2017, NHTSA issued a Notice of Proposed Rulemaking for a proposed safety standard (FMVSS 150) that would require the phase-in of Dedicated Short Range Communication (DSRC) units into new passenger vehicles. These communication devices permit V2V and V2I communications. In the V2V context, they would transmit a basic safety message containing information about the vehicle's speed, heading, brake status and the like to other vehicles. They would also receive like messages from other vehicles. Through these communications, vehicles can detect accident threats before their on-board systems can, enhancing a vehicle's autonomous capabilities. In the V2I context, the transportation infrastructure itself can use DSRC to communicate warnings and other information to vehicles and drivers to make driving safer. V2I applications include things like red light violation warnings, curve speed warnings, reduced speed warnings, and stop sign violation warnings. Key stakeholders for V2I infrastructure development include local public agencies, state highway departments and transit operators. NHTSA has taken no action to advance its rulemaking.

Currently, DSRC is the only existing technology that meets the performance requirements necessary for V2V and V2I communications. And, the FCC has set aside the 5.9 GHz bandwidth exclusively for DSRC. However, there is another communications technology, a cellular option (C-V2X) based on 4G cellular standards, that may prove to be as good as if not better than DSRC for V2V and V2I. A more advanced 5G-based version is also being discussed, although 5G has yet to be deployed on any significant basis in the U.S.

In its guidance 3.0, NHTSA discusses V2X (V2V + V2I) communications. It notes that "there are over 70 active deployments of V2X communications utilizing the 5.9 GHz band. U.S. DOT currently estimates that by the end of 2018, over 18,000 vehicles will be deployed with aftermarket V2X communications devices and over 1000 infrastructure V2X devices will be installed at the roadside." NHTSA goes on to note the large number of other planned future deployments by infrastructure stakeholders. NHTSA expressly encourages continued development of the technology but, at the same time, it expressly declines to endorse DRSC over Cellular V2X.

NHTSA's we take no position-stance creates a problem. That problem arises because DSRC and C-V2X presently cannot communicate with one another. They are not interoperable. It's one or the other. And, all those deployments by infrastructure stakeholders described by NHTSA, use DSRC. What should they do now? Continue to invest in DSRC-based systems or wait to see which technology emerges the victor. NHTSA says only, anyone considering future deployments should "engage with the US DOT for guidance and assistance." What that guidance will be is not clear. However, infrastructure stakeholders should note that two FCC Commissioners recently hinted to Toyota that it should reconsider its planned rollout of DSRC in new vehicles noting the potential availability of 5G technology. More recently, one FCC commissioner derisively commented that "[i]t is pure folly to believe that DSRC will ever work as envisioned."1 Unlike NHTSA, the FCC appears willing to promote one technology over another and, the FCC determines who gets to use the 5.9 GHz band currently devoted to DSRC.

Bottom line, NHTSA is doing all that it can to actively facilitate the deployment of automated vehicles in the U.S. Also, NHTSA has outlined how it envisions the autonomous future will develop providing some degree of encouragement and certainty to the auto industry. However, for V2I infrastructure stakeholders, the future, at least in the near term, is less certain.


1 Statement of Commissioner Michael O'Rielly on NCTA 5.9 GHz Letter, October 16, 2018.

To print this article, all you need is to be registered on Mondaq.com.

Click to Login as an existing user or Register so you can print this article.

Similar Articles
Relevancy Powered by MondaqAI
In association with
Related Topics
Similar Articles
Relevancy Powered by MondaqAI
Related Articles
Related Video
Up-coming Events Search
Font Size:
Mondaq on Twitter
Mondaq Free Registration
Gain access to Mondaq global archive of over 375,000 articles covering 200 countries with a personalised News Alert and automatic login on this device.
Mondaq News Alert (some suggested topics and region)
Select Topics
Registration (please scroll down to set your data preferences)

Mondaq Ltd requires you to register and provide information that personally identifies you, including your content preferences, for three primary purposes (full details of Mondaq’s use of your personal data can be found in our Privacy and Cookies Notice):

  • To allow you to personalize the Mondaq websites you are visiting to show content ("Content") relevant to your interests.
  • To enable features such as password reminder, news alerts, email a colleague, and linking from Mondaq (and its affiliate sites) to your website.
  • To produce demographic feedback for our content providers ("Contributors") who contribute Content for free for your use.

Mondaq hopes that our registered users will support us in maintaining our free to view business model by consenting to our use of your personal data as described below.

Mondaq has a "free to view" business model. Our services are paid for by Contributors in exchange for Mondaq providing them with access to information about who accesses their content. Once personal data is transferred to our Contributors they become a data controller of this personal data. They use it to measure the response that their articles are receiving, as a form of market research. They may also use it to provide Mondaq users with information about their products and services.

Details of each Contributor to which your personal data will be transferred is clearly stated within the Content that you access. For full details of how this Contributor will use your personal data, you should review the Contributor’s own Privacy Notice.

Please indicate your preference below:

Yes, I am happy to support Mondaq in maintaining its free to view business model by agreeing to allow Mondaq to share my personal data with Contributors whose Content I access
No, I do not want Mondaq to share my personal data with Contributors

Also please let us know whether you are happy to receive communications promoting products and services offered by Mondaq:

Yes, I am happy to received promotional communications from Mondaq
No, please do not send me promotional communications from Mondaq
Terms & Conditions

Mondaq.com (the Website) is owned and managed by Mondaq Ltd (Mondaq). Mondaq grants you a non-exclusive, revocable licence to access the Website and associated services, such as the Mondaq News Alerts (Services), subject to and in consideration of your compliance with the following terms and conditions of use (Terms). Your use of the Website and/or Services constitutes your agreement to the Terms. Mondaq may terminate your use of the Website and Services if you are in breach of these Terms or if Mondaq decides to terminate the licence granted hereunder for any reason whatsoever.

Use of www.mondaq.com

To Use Mondaq.com you must be: eighteen (18) years old or over; legally capable of entering into binding contracts; and not in any way prohibited by the applicable law to enter into these Terms in the jurisdiction which you are currently located.

You may use the Website as an unregistered user, however, you are required to register as a user if you wish to read the full text of the Content or to receive the Services.

You may not modify, publish, transmit, transfer or sell, reproduce, create derivative works from, distribute, perform, link, display, or in any way exploit any of the Content, in whole or in part, except as expressly permitted in these Terms or with the prior written consent of Mondaq. You may not use electronic or other means to extract details or information from the Content. Nor shall you extract information about users or Contributors in order to offer them any services or products.

In your use of the Website and/or Services you shall: comply with all applicable laws, regulations, directives and legislations which apply to your Use of the Website and/or Services in whatever country you are physically located including without limitation any and all consumer law, export control laws and regulations; provide to us true, correct and accurate information and promptly inform us in the event that any information that you have provided to us changes or becomes inaccurate; notify Mondaq immediately of any circumstances where you have reason to believe that any Intellectual Property Rights or any other rights of any third party may have been infringed; co-operate with reasonable security or other checks or requests for information made by Mondaq from time to time; and at all times be fully liable for the breach of any of these Terms by a third party using your login details to access the Website and/or Services

however, you shall not: do anything likely to impair, interfere with or damage or cause harm or distress to any persons, or the network; do anything that will infringe any Intellectual Property Rights or other rights of Mondaq or any third party; or use the Website, Services and/or Content otherwise than in accordance with these Terms; use any trade marks or service marks of Mondaq or the Contributors, or do anything which may be seen to take unfair advantage of the reputation and goodwill of Mondaq or the Contributors, or the Website, Services and/or Content.

Mondaq reserves the right, in its sole discretion, to take any action that it deems necessary and appropriate in the event it considers that there is a breach or threatened breach of the Terms.

Mondaq’s Rights and Obligations

Unless otherwise expressly set out to the contrary, nothing in these Terms shall serve to transfer from Mondaq to you, any Intellectual Property Rights owned by and/or licensed to Mondaq and all rights, title and interest in and to such Intellectual Property Rights will remain exclusively with Mondaq and/or its licensors.

Mondaq shall use its reasonable endeavours to make the Website and Services available to you at all times, but we cannot guarantee an uninterrupted and fault free service.

Mondaq reserves the right to make changes to the services and/or the Website or part thereof, from time to time, and we may add, remove, modify and/or vary any elements of features and functionalities of the Website or the services.

Mondaq also reserves the right from time to time to monitor your Use of the Website and/or services.


The Content is general information only. It is not intended to constitute legal advice or seek to be the complete and comprehensive statement of the law, nor is it intended to address your specific requirements or provide advice on which reliance should be placed. Mondaq and/or its Contributors and other suppliers make no representations about the suitability of the information contained in the Content for any purpose. All Content provided "as is" without warranty of any kind. Mondaq and/or its Contributors and other suppliers hereby exclude and disclaim all representations, warranties or guarantees with regard to the Content, including all implied warranties and conditions of merchantability, fitness for a particular purpose, title and non-infringement. To the maximum extent permitted by law, Mondaq expressly excludes all representations, warranties, obligations, and liabilities arising out of or in connection with all Content. In no event shall Mondaq and/or its respective suppliers be liable for any special, indirect or consequential damages or any damages whatsoever resulting from loss of use, data or profits, whether in an action of contract, negligence or other tortious action, arising out of or in connection with the use of the Content or performance of Mondaq’s Services.


Mondaq may alter or amend these Terms by amending them on the Website. By continuing to Use the Services and/or the Website after such amendment, you will be deemed to have accepted any amendment to these Terms.

These Terms shall be governed by and construed in accordance with the laws of England and Wales and you irrevocably submit to the exclusive jurisdiction of the courts of England and Wales to settle any dispute which may arise out of or in connection with these Terms. If you live outside the United Kingdom, English law shall apply only to the extent that English law shall not deprive you of any legal protection accorded in accordance with the law of the place where you are habitually resident ("Local Law"). In the event English law deprives you of any legal protection which is accorded to you under Local Law, then these terms shall be governed by Local Law and any dispute or claim arising out of or in connection with these Terms shall be subject to the non-exclusive jurisdiction of the courts where you are habitually resident.

You may print and keep a copy of these Terms, which form the entire agreement between you and Mondaq and supersede any other communications or advertising in respect of the Service and/or the Website.

No delay in exercising or non-exercise by you and/or Mondaq of any of its rights under or in connection with these Terms shall operate as a waiver or release of each of your or Mondaq’s right. Rather, any such waiver or release must be specifically granted in writing signed by the party granting it.

If any part of these Terms is held unenforceable, that part shall be enforced to the maximum extent permissible so as to give effect to the intent of the parties, and the Terms shall continue in full force and effect.

Mondaq shall not incur any liability to you on account of any loss or damage resulting from any delay or failure to perform all or any part of these Terms if such delay or failure is caused, in whole or in part, by events, occurrences, or causes beyond the control of Mondaq. Such events, occurrences or causes will include, without limitation, acts of God, strikes, lockouts, server and network failure, riots, acts of war, earthquakes, fire and explosions.

By clicking Register you state you have read and agree to our Terms and Conditions