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Drivers needed! Autonomous truck study recruitment in process

Autonomous trucks are on the rise in the trucking industry. While opinions and feelings on this advancement are diverse, the FMCSA is moving forward with recruitment for an autonomous vehicle study, as reported at Freightwaves.com.

A notice was published in the Federal Register on Sept. 21 requesting the Office of Management and Budget to review the study and then give approval. The FMSCA aims to recruit 100 truck drivers willing to participate in a study that utilizes a simulator to evaluate distractions and subsequent reactions that happen when driving a semi-autonomous truck. The study will use a simulator to imitate trucks equipped with Level 2 (L2) and Level 3 (L3) autonomous driving systems (ADS).

Level 2 driving systems are partially automated and can control steering, braking, and accelerating. However, these systems require total and sustained driver engagement, according to the Society of Automotive Engineers. Comparatively, Level 3 systems are equipped to perform any driving task, under certain conditions. They don’t require the driver to be continually engaged, but the driver must be able to regain control at any point.

“When an L3 vehicle alerts the driver that a takeover is required, the driver needs to have situational awareness to resume full control of the vehicle,” according to the FMCSA’s notice.

The FMCSA’s Sept. 21 notice also stated that while autonomous driving systems are becoming increasingly standard in passenger vehicles, more information is needed on commercial vehicles equipped with autonomous driving systems. The agency is looking to, “understand driver behavior and policy implications,” as stated in the notice.

The FMCSA also believes the study “will provide insight into the human factors associated with semi-automated CMVs. Moreover, these findings will inform training materials to educate drivers on distraction and the functionality of ADS as well as policy pertaining to the implications of ADS in CMVs,” according to the notice.

The notice also requested public comment, which will be received until Nov. 20. The FMCSA plans to issue a proposed rule in November that handles the integration of trucks equipped with autonomous driving systems onto roads.