Momentum: Issue #4

October 15, 2018


This story first ran in the October 5th edition of Policy Rundown; it has been updated.

On October 4th, Secretary of Transportation Elaine Chao introduced the update to Federal Automated Vehicle Policy contained in an 80-page document titled “Preparing for the Future of Transportation: Automated Vehicles 3.0,” or “AV3.0” for short.  The Department of Transportation is seeking public comments on the guidance through December 3, 2018.

The prior guidance, AV 2.0, was released in September of 2017. It was built largely from the original federal policy released near the end of the prior administration.

The update further highlights differences from the previous administration’s policy and sets the tone related the federal government’s role in addressing the opportunities and challenges of automated vehicles — in particular, safety and security assurance, cooperative vehicle safety systems and infrastructure. It also addresses ancillary but still vital issues such as the opportunity for automated systems to address the mobility needs of Americans who are underserved, how to address the impact of automation on employment, and the need to transition the transportation workforce.

In her speech, Secretary Chao warned again that “Consumer acceptance will be the constraint to growth of this technology…Without public acceptance, the full potential of these technologies will never be realized.” She asserted: “The public has legitimate concerns about the safety, security and privacy of automated technology.”

The policy reiterates principles espoused by U.S. Department of Transportation (DOT) officials over the last year: focusing on safety as a priority; neutrality when addressing technology; modernizing regulations and producing a consistent environment; and preparation — by encouraging automated vehicle testing pilots, technology development best practices, and complementary technologies such as Vehicle-to-X (V2X) communications, while addressing challenges such as accessibility and workforce transition.  

In addition, it restates the assumption that automation technologies are new and that the right approach to achieving safety improvements begins with a focus on removing unnecessary barriers and issuing voluntary guidance, rather than regulations that might stifle innovation.In this vein, the new policy encourages automated vehicle manufacturers to develop voluntary self- assessments for all vehicles types, not just light passenger vehicles. It repeats support for the development of voluntary technical consensus standards as an effective, non-regulatory means to measure and assure safety. It eschews automotive safety “type approval,” more common abroad, in support of the current National Highway Traffic Safety Administration (NHTSA) model of “self-certification” and suggests areas in which states and local governments can remove barriers. It also outlines a framework for safety risk management and a targeted federal role in automation research, among other areas.

It states DOT’s policy is to provide consideration for states and local government seeking to facilitate the safe and effective testing and operations of automation technologies and announced the release of a notice of funding opportunity of $60M in demonstration grants. At the same time, the policy disavowed the 10 locations designated as federally-recognized “automated vehicle proving grounds” that Secretary Anthony Foxx announced on his last day in office in January 2017.

The Department clarified a gap in standards for automated vehicles while reasserting its authority to recall vehicles that present unreasonable risks to safety.  (The policy also added that Federal Motor Carrier Safety Administration [FMCSA] retains the authority to take enforcement action if an automated system inhibits safety operation, even if federal rules conflict with state and local regulations). The policy states that current NHTSA safety standards do not prevent the development, testing, sale or use of Automated Driving System (ADS) built into vehicles that maintain the traditional cabins and control features of human-operated vehicles.  

Specifically, DOT modernized regulations to address and potentially update “driver references” — DOT will interpret and, consistent with all applicable notice and comment requirements, adapt the definitions of ‘driver’ or ‘operator’ as appropriate to recognize that such terms do not refer exclusively to a human, but may include an automated system” in both Federal Motor Vehicle Safety Standards (FMVSS) and Federal Motor Carrier Safety Rules (FMCSR).   It will seek to identify and support development of automation-related voluntary standards developed through organizations and associations. The policy argues that such standards can be “an effective non-regulatory means to advance the integration of automation technologies.”

DOT also included in its guidance an “advanced notice of proposed rulemaking” for automated driving systems, both on passenger cars and trucks, and made a pledge to “streamline” this exemption process, which current law allows for in a limited number of vehicles.  (Current legislation before Congress would expand alter these limits).

The policy also contemplates modernization of the regulatory regime, which is a departure from current practice. It acknowledges that the pace of technological change, especially in the development of software used in ADS equipped vehicles, requires a new approach to FMVSS.  It suggests that future standards may need to reflect where vehicles are being driven (their operational design domain), requiring “simpler, more general requirements designed to validate that an ADS can safety navigate the real-world roadway environment, including predictable hazards, obstacles and interactions with other vehicles and pedestrians who may not always adhere to the traffic laws or follow expected patterns of behavior.”

It suggests scenario-based performance safety standards based on a system described Operational Design Domain (ODD), with test procedures to ensure that a vehicle cannot be driven beyond its designated ODD.  Such scenario tests would also include surrogates for other vehicles and obstacles behavior could be included and computer simulation and requirements expressed in terms of mathematical functions could be considered.

In relation to complementary cooperative safety technologies and infrastructure, the Department made two critical announcements. First, it affirmed it would back away from its commitment to “cooperative” safety technologies, such as V2X, and that DOT is “continuing its work to preserve the ability for transportation safety applications to function in the 5.9 GHz spectrum.”  It called out V2X platooning, intersection “signal phase and timing” and road speed harmonization as important elements of “cooperative automation,” though it acknowledges these systems are not pre-conditions for deployment of all automated vehicles. 

The policy calculates there are nearly 1,000 V2X roadside units installed in the United States, with 18,000 vehicles deployed. It also states that “…all seven channels of the 5.9GHz band are actively utilized in these deployments.” This is in seeming contrast to Federal Communications Commission (FCC) Commissioner Rosenworcel’s contention “let’s acknowledge that other countries are doing this using less spectrum than the 75 megahertz that the United States has set aside—in fact, only a small portion of those airwaves were set aside by the FCC for basic safety messaging.” [Remarks of Commissioner Jessica Rosenworcel Silicon Flatirons Conference Boulder, Colorado September 6, 2018].

 It states that $700M has been spent for R&D and under federal programs, nearly $150M has been spent on equipment, with some states combing state and local funds to deploy V2X infrastructure.  In particular, it shows that Colorado intends to spend $72M throughout the state by 2021.  The policy acknowledges that in addition to Dedicated Short-Range Communications (DSRC), private sector companies are “already researching and testing Cellular-V2X technology that also utilize the 5.9GHz spectrum.”

Lastly, the Department will pursue and update the 2009 Manual for Uniform Traffic Control Devices (MUTCD) and take new infrastructure-based technologies into consideration.  

ITS America’s statement in response to the new policy, from President and CEO Shailen Bhatt stated that “…(ITS America) is encouraged by the U.S. Department of  Transportation’s support for V2X…:” as well as the “…update safety standards and streamline and modernize the exemption approval process for automated vehicles is a positive step forward.”  Bhatt also praised the policy for emphasizing accessibility, which has been a priority of the association since 2017. 


Name:  Jim Barbaresso
Title:  Senior Vice President, Intelligent Transportation Systems Practice Leader
Company:  HNTB Corporation

Most unusual job you have ever had before current position: Aside from working the drive-through at McDonald’s, one of my most interesting jobs was on a World Bank project in Fushun, China where I documented locations and frequencies where pedestrians would jaywalk.

If you could switch jobs in your company, who would you switch with and why?:  I would switch with the entry-level software development intern.  Coming from the transportation engineering/planning side, I have never learned the mechanics of developing code for the products we provide and configure with our agency customers.  To me there has always been a mystique around software development and learning this “language” would be a benefit to understanding fundamentals of our products – it’s often hard to become an intern again after moving along in your career – so if I had a chance to intern as a software developer (if anyone would ever even hire me for that) it would be a great experience.

Fun fact: I’m an avid hiker,

Short Job description/Role Responsibility: Jim oversees the firm’s ITS capabilities, which include development of advanced and active traffic management systems; design and operation of transportation, toll and emergency management centers; development and implementation of Smart City solutions; and the latest advancements in emerging mobility solutions, including connected and automated transportation technologies.

Current or previous  #ITS Project: Barbaresso and HNTB have been involved in a growing number of projects related to the national connected vehicle initiative, including the Tampa Hillsborough Expressway Authority Connected Vehicle Pilot. Jim also has been involved as an advisor on many automated vehicle projects, including two of the USDOT-designated automated vehicle proving grounds. He was active in the 2016 Smart Cities initiative sponsored by the U.S. Department of Transportation and continues to play a role in the national Smart Cities movement.

Accomplishments: Jim has 40 years of transportation planning, operations and ITS experience in both the public and private sectors. During his career, he pioneered the use of adaptive traffic signal control in the U.S. and deployed the first video traffic detection system for traffic signal control in the world. Jim was an advisor for the establishment of the National ITS Architecture and managed one of the first USDOT Intelligent-Vehicle Highway Systems (IVHS) Operational Field Tests in the early 1990’s. He has been a champion for highway safety throughout his career, and this is the basis of his 2015 TEDx talk ( on connected and automated vehicles. In recognition of Jim’s career achievements in ITS, his peers selected him to chair the highly successful 2014 ITS World Congress in Detroit, which was a springboard for the connected and automated vehicle ecosystem. Jim continues to serve on the ITS World Congress Board of Directors. In 2016, Barbaresso was named a technical Fellow by HNTB – an honor reserved for those achieving technical excellence in their field of work. Barbaresso is a regular contributor to many mainstream news media outlets throughout the United States advancing emerging mobility solutions.

What does the future of #ITS look like to you? Technology holds the promise of further reducing, and perhaps someday eliminating, motor vehicle deaths. Connectivity and automation will play a huge role in reducing crashes, but engineering, enforcement and education will continue to be necessary components of the evolving safety culture. Technological advances in transportation will have a positive impact on the environment. Air quality will be improved with new connected vehicle applications and eco-driving capabilities. Carbon-based fuel consumption will decrease as our “smart cities” look toward new energy and mobility options. Transportation planning and design will change as automated vehicles hit the road.  Soon, new managed lanes concepts will emerge where automated vehicles will operate in platoons and electric vehicles will be charged wirelessly as they drive. Corridor management will take place through connectivity of vehicles and infrastructure, and active traffic management functions, like speed harmonization, will be automated. Smart phones will become toll tags, but also will be used to pay for parking and transit fares. Our roads, intersections, freeways and transit systems of tomorrow will look and operate quite differently than what we see today.

Most Unusual Job you have ever had before current position: My first job after high school was at a meat packing plant in Sioux Falls, South Dakota. As one of the new hires, I was relegated to the “Beef Byproducts” department, where I was responsible for processing many unmentionable delicacies.

Hidden Talent: Every year since 1978, I’ve written a Christmas poem that my wife and I send to friends and family.

If you weren’t working in Transportation industry you would: Be a chef and sommelier. My dad was a restauranteur, and I grew up working as a cook (waiter, busboy and dishwasher). I love preparing meals for my friends and family, when I have time.