Securing America’s Future Energy (SAFE) has urged the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration (NHTSA) to consider petitions submitted by GM Cruise and Nuro to allow flexibility in the design of autonomous vehicles (AVs) operating on public roads. Granting the petitions would allow the companies to deploy vehicles without conventional features such as a steering wheel, an important step toward a transportation system that is safer, more efficient, and more accessible. GM Cruise and Nuro seek exemptions from the Federal Motor Vehicle Safety Standards (FMVSS), which NHTSA has authority to grant under specific criteria.
“These petitions are the first step toward a transportation system that is better tailored for efficient, accessible travel. We urge NHTSA to evaluate these petitions expeditiously and in accordance with the requirements set by law that they be as safe as other vehicles on the road. Flexibility on vehicle design would allow for mobility to be re-envisioned from the ground up, reducing fuel consumption, emissions, and allowing the possibility of more accessible vehicle designs,” said Amitai Bin-Nun, Vice President of Autonomous Vehicles and Mobility Innovation at SAFE.
Submitted last year, GM Cruise’s petition requests an exemption to enable public on-road testing of vehicles without steering wheels or pedals. The petition from Nuro is for a delivery vehicle—carrying no passengers—to be exempt from requiring a windshield, among other conventional design elements.
NHTSA has the authority to grant exemptions from FMVSS subject to specific criteria and documentation demonstrating that the vehicle qualifies for exemption. Petitioners are required to prove their vehicles are as safe as existing designs and provide substantial data to substantiate those claims. Vehicles that undergo this scrutiny are among the most vetted cars on our streets.
“How NHTSA reacts to these petitions will be critical for the viability of the exemption process as a regulatory framework; an engaged response from NHTSA will offer industry clarity on the requirements and utility of exemptions. Approval of these petitions, or a clear articulation of the requirements for approval, will send a clear signal to industry on the feasibility of innovative, more efficient, and more accessible vehicle designs,” added Bin-Nun.
About Securing America’s Future Energy
Securing America’s Future Energy (SAFE) is an action-oriented, nonpartisan organization that aims to reduce America’s dependence on oil. Near-total dependence on petroleum in the transportation sector undermines the nation’s economic and national security, and constrains U.S. foreign policy. To combat these threats, SAFE advocates for expanded domestic production of U.S. oil and gas resources, continued improvements in vehicle fuel efficiency, and transportation sector innovations including electric vehicles, natural gas trucks, and autonomous vehicles. In 2006, SAFE joined with General P.X. Kelley (Ret.), 28th Commandant of the U.S. Marine Corps, and Frederick W. Smith, Chairman, President, and CEO of FedEx Corporation, to form the Energy Security Leadership Council (ESLC), a group of business and former military leaders committed to reducing the United States’ dependence on oil. Today, the ESLC is co-chaired by Frederick W. Smith and General James T. Conway (Ret), 34th Commandant of the U.S. Marine Corps.
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