Nuro, Inc.; Receipt of Petition for Temporary Exemption for an Electric Vehicle With an Automated Driving System, 10172-10182 [2019-05121]

Download as PDF 10172 Federal Register / Vol. 84, No. 53 / Tuesday, March 19, 2019 / Notices adverse effect and Memorandum of Agreement (MOA) dated September 25, 2018; project-level air quality conformity; and Final Environmental Impact Statement/Record of Decision, dated November 9, 2018. Supporting documentation: Draft Environmental Impact Assessment for the Cotton Belt Corridor Regional Rail Project, dated April 10, 2018. 2. Project name and location: The Purple Line Bus Rapid Transit Project, Marion County, Indiana. Project sponsor: The Indianapolis Public Transportation Corporation. Project description: The Purple Line Bus Rapid Transit Project will implement a mixedtraffic/dedicated lane Bus Rapid Transit (BRT) route that is part of a system-wide expansion of both local route and BRT services identified in the Marion County Transit Plan. The approximately 14.8mile BRT route will serve northern and eastern Marion County, connecting the Julia M. Carson Transit Center in downtown Indianapolis with the Ivy Tech Community College in Lawrence. The Purple Line BRT system consists of 31 BRT stations, including 7 shared stations with the Red Line BRT, which will be constructed prior to the Purple Line BRT, as well as 23 new Purple Line stations. A potential 24th station location is being considered at Otis Avenue and Wheeler Road near the Lawrence terminus. Project infrastructure improvements include the construction of sidewalks, a new multiuse path along East 38th Street, drainage improvements, pavement replacement, new traffic signals, and a new multi-use path along the north side of East 38th Street between Tacoma and Sheridan Avenues. This notice only applies to the discrete actions taken by FTA at this time, as described below. Nothing in this notice affects FTA’s previous decisions, or notice thereof, for this project. Final agency actions: Section 4(f) de minimis impact determination; Section 106 finding of adverse effect and MOA dated February 7, 2019; project-level air quality conformity; and determination of the applicability of a Documented Categorical Exclusion pursuant to 23 CFR 771.118(d) dated February 22, 2019. Supporting documentation: Documented Categorical Exclusion checklist and supporting materials, dated February 2019. Elizabeth S. Riklin, Deputy Associate Administrator for Planning and Environment. [FR Doc. 2019–05093 Filed 3–18–19; 8:45 am] BILLING CODE P VerDate Sep<11>2014 17:54 Mar 18, 2019 Jkt 247001 DEPARTMENT OF TRANSPORTATION National Highway Traffic Safety Administration [Docket No. NHTSA–2019–0017] Nuro, Inc.; Receipt of Petition for Temporary Exemption for an Electric Vehicle With an Automated Driving System National Highway Traffic Safety Administration (NHTSA), Department of Transportation (DOT). ACTION: Notice of receipt of petition for temporary exemption; request for public comment. AGENCY: Nuro, Inc. (Nuro) has petitioned NHTSA for a temporary exemption from certain requirements in Federal Motor Vehicle Safety Standard (FMVSS) No. 500, which establishes standards for ‘‘Low-speed vehicles,’’ on the basis that an exemption would make the development or field evaluation of a low-emission vehicle easier without unreasonably lowering the safety of that vehicle. The vehicle for which Nuro requests an exemption is a low-speed, highly automated delivery vehicle intended to be operated without any human occupants and thus designed without any seating. Specifically, Nuro requests exemptions from the requirements in FMVSS No. 500 that its vehicle be equipped with rearview mirrors, a windshield that complies with FMVSS No. 205, and a rear visibility (backup camera) system that complies with FMVSS No. 111. Nuro states that the absence of human occupants, combined with the vehicle’s various safety design features, including the vehicle’s Automated Driving System (ADS), make compliance with these provisions of FMVSS No. 500 either unnecessary for, or detrimental to, the safety of pedestrians and cyclists. NHTSA is publishing this document in accordance with statutory and administrative provisions, and requests comments on this document and the petition submitted by Nuro. NHTSA will assess the merits of the petition and decide whether to grant or deny it after receiving and considering the public comments on this notice, the petition, public responses to the questions in this notice and such additional information as Nuro may provide. DATES: Comments on this petition must be submitted by May 20, 2019. FOR FURTHER INFORMATION CONTACT: Stephen Wood or Daniel Koblenz, Office of Chief Counsel, National Highway Traffic Safety Administration, 1200 New Jersey Avenue SE, Washington, DC SUMMARY: PO 00000 Frm 00153 Fmt 4703 Sfmt 4703 20590. Telephone: 202–366–2992; Fax: 202–366–3820. Comments: NHTSA invites you to submit comments on the petition described herein and the questions posed below. You may submit comments identified by docket number in the heading of this notice by any of the following methods: • Fax: 202–493–2251. • Mail: U.S. Department of Transportation, Docket Operations, M– 30, Room W12–140, 1200 New Jersey Avenue SE, Washington, DC 20590. • Hand Delivery: 1200 New Jersey Avenue SE, West Building Ground Floor, Room W12–140, Washington, DC, between 9 a.m. and 5 p.m., Monday through Friday, except Federal Holidays. • Federal eRulemaking Portal: Go to http://www.regulations.gov. Follow the online instructions for submitting comments. Instructions: All submissions must include the agency name and docket number. Note that all comments received will be posted without change to http://www.regulations.gov, including any personal information provided. Please see the Privacy Act discussion below. NHTSA will consider all comments received before the close of business on the comment closing date indicated above. To the extent possible, NHTSA will also consider comments filed after the closing date. Docket: For access to the docket to read background documents or comments received, go to http:// www.regulations.gov at any time or to 1200 New Jersey Avenue SE, West Building Ground Floor, Room W12–140, Washington, DC 20590, between 9 a.m. and 5 p.m., Monday through Friday, except Federal Holidays. Telephone: 202–366–9826. Privacy Act: In accordance with 5 U.S.C. 553(c), DOT solicits comments from the public to better inform its rulemaking process. DOT posts these comments, without edit, to www.regulations.gov, as described in the system of records notice, DOT/ALL– 14 FDMS, accessible through www.dot.gov/privacy. In order to facilitate comment tracking and response, we encourage commenters to provide their name, or the name of their organization; however, submission of names is completely optional. Whether or not commenters identify themselves, all timely comments will be fully considered. If you wish to provide comments containing proprietary or confidential information, please contact the agency for alternate submission instructions. E:\FR\FM\19MRN1.SGM 19MRN1 Federal Register / Vol. 84, No. 53 / Tuesday, March 19, 2019 / Notices Confidential Business Information: If you wish to submit any information under a claim of confidentiality, you should submit three copies of your complete submission, including the information you claim to be confidential business information, to the Chief Counsel, NHTSA, at the address given under FOR FURTHER INFORMATION CONTACT. In addition, you should submit two copies, from which you have deleted the claimed confidential business information, to Docket Management at the address given above. When you send a comment containing information claimed to be confidential business information, you should include a cover letter setting forth the information specified in our confidential business information regulation (49 CFR part 512). SUPPLEMENTARY INFORMATION: Table of Contents I. Introduction II. Background a. Statutory Authority and Regulatory Requirements for Temporary Exemption Petitions b. Low-Speed Vehicles and FMVSS No. 500 III. Nuro’s Petition a. Overview of the ‘‘R2X’’ Low-Speed Automated Delivery Robot b. Why Nuro Believes That Granting Its Petition Would Facilitate the Development or Field Evaluation of a Low-Emission Motor Vehicle c. Why Nuro Believes That Granting Its Petition Would Not Unreasonably Degrade Safety i. Exterior Mirror Requirement ii. Windshield Requirement iii. Rear Visibility (Backup Camera) Requirement d. Why Nuro Believes That Its Vehicle Is a Low Emission Vehicle e. Why Nuro Believes That Granting Its Petition Would Be in the Public Interest i. ADS Safety ii. Downstream Environmental and Economic Benefits IV. Agency Review V. Terms VI. Request for Comments and Information VII. Comment Period I. Introduction This document notifies the public that NHTSA has received from Nuro Inc. (‘‘Nuro’’) a petition for a temporary exemption from three requirements of FMVSS No. 500, which establishes standards for ‘‘Low-speed vehicles.’’ Nuro submits its request on the basis that an exemption would make the development or field evaluation of a low-emission vehicle easier without unreasonably lowering the safety of that VerDate Sep<11>2014 17:54 Mar 18, 2019 Jkt 247001 vehicle.1 The vehicle that is the subject of the petition is the ‘‘R2X,’’ which Nuro describes as a highly automated (SAE Level 4 or simply L4),2 low-speed (25 mph maximum), electric-powered delivery robot. According to Nuro, the R2X would be designed to carry cargo exclusively, and accordingly would not have any passenger compartment or designated seating positions. The provisions of FMVSS No. 500 from which Nuro requests an exemption are the requirements that low speed vehicles (LSVs) be equipped with (1) rearview mirrors, (2) an FMVSS No. 205-compliant windshield, and (3) an FMVSS No. 111-compliant rear visibility (backup camera) system. Because this vehicle would not have any designated seating positions, Nuro states that the vehicle should not be required to have any seatbelts, and, thus, does not need an exemption from that requirement. Nuro requests a twoyear exemption, during which it seeks to be allowed to introduce fewer than 2,500 exempted vehicles into interstate commerce for each 12-month period covered by the exemption.3 This notice solicits comments from the public to inform NHTSA’s analysis of the merits of Nuro’s petition under the low-emission vehicle exemption basis in 49 U.S.C. 30113. To this end, this notice includes requests for comments and poses specific questions regarding issues that NHTSA believes could be relevant in deciding whether to grant the petition. If commenters believe that there are other potentially relevant issues, NHTSA invites them to identify those issues and explain their potential relevance. II. Background a. Statutory Authority and Regulatory Requirements for Temporary Exemption Petitions The National Traffic and Motor Vehicle Safety Act (Safety Act), codified at Chapter 301 et seq., of title 49, United States Code, authorizes the Secretary of Transportation to exempt, on a 1 In the balance of this document, we will refer to this as the ‘‘low-emission vehicle exemption basis.’’ For more information, see 49 U.S.C. 30113(b)(3) 2 The SAE International automation levels are commonly used to describe the degree to which a motor vehicle can operate autonomously. The levels of automation range from Level 0 (no automation) to Level 5 (complete automation with no limitations). A Level 4 (L4) vehicle such as the R2X is considered to have ‘‘high driving automation’’ which means that the vehicle can perform 100 percent of the driving task within the vehicle’s operational design domain. 3 Nuro has requested that the agency withhold as confidential business information the precise number of vehicles it expects to deploy if an exemption is granted. PO 00000 Frm 00154 Fmt 4703 Sfmt 4703 10173 temporary basis, under specified circumstances, and on terms the Secretary deems appropriate, motor vehicles from a FMVSS or bumper standard. This authority is set forth at 49 U.S.C. 30113. The Secretary has delegated the authority for implementing this section to NHTSA.4 The Safety Act authorizes the Secretary (by delegation, NHTSA) to grant, in whole or in part, a temporary exemption to a vehicle manufacturer if certain specified findings are made. The Secretary must look comprehensively at the request for exemption and find that the exemption is consistent with the public interest and with the objectives of the Vehicle Safety Act.5 In addition, the Secretary must make one of the following more-focused findings: (i) Compliance with the standard[s] [from which exemption is sought] would cause substantial economic hardship to a manufacturer that has tried to comply with the standard[s] in good faith; (ii) the exemption would make easier the development or field evaluation of a new motor vehicle safety feature providing a safety level at least equal to the safety level of the standard; (iii) the exemption would make the development or field evaluation of a low-emission motor vehicle easier and would not unreasonably lower the safety level of that vehicle; or (iv) compliance with the standard would prevent the manufacturer from selling a motor vehicle with an overall safety level at least equal to the overall safety level of nonexempt vehicles.6 The third of these additional findings is the basis for Nuro’s request for exemption. Nuro requests the Secretary to grant its petition based on a finding that the exemption is consistent with the public interest and with the Safety Act, and that the exemption would facilitate the development or field evaluation of a low-emission motor vehicle and would not unreasonably reduce the safety level of that vehicle.7 The statute further states that, for exemptions under this subsection, ‘‘a record of the research, development, and testing establishing that the motor vehicle is a low-emission motor vehicle and that the safety level of the vehicle is not lowered unreasonably by exemption from the standard’’ must also be included in the application. NHTSA established 49 CFR part 555, ‘‘Temporary Exemption from Motor 4 49 CFR 1.95. U.S.C. 30113(b)(3)(A). 6 49 U.S.C. 30113(b)(3)(B). 7 49 U.S.C. 30113(b)(3)(B)(iii). 5 49 E:\FR\FM\19MRN1.SGM 19MRN1 10174 Federal Register / Vol. 84, No. 53 / Tuesday, March 19, 2019 / Notices Vehicle Safety and Bumper Standards,’’ to implement the statutory provisions concerning temporary exemptions. The requirements in 49 CFR 555.5 state that the petitioner must set forth the basis of the petition by providing the information required under 49 CFR 555.6, and the reasons why the exemption would be in the public interest and consistent with the objectives of the Safety Act. A petition justified on the lowemission vehicle exemption basis must include the following information specified in 49 CFR 555.6(c): (1) Substantiation that the vehicle is a low-emission vehicle; (2) Research, development, and testing documentation establishing that a temporary exemption would not unreasonably degrade the safety or impact protection of the vehicle; (i) A detailed description of how the motor vehicle equipped with the lowemission engine would, if exempted, differ from one that complies with the standard; (ii) If the petitioner is presently manufacturing a vehicle conforming to the standard, the results of tests conducted to substantiate certification to the standard; (iii) The results of any tests conducted on the vehicle that demonstrate its failure to meet the standard, expressed as comparative performance levels; and (iv) Reasons why the failure to meet the standard does not unreasonably degrade the safety or impact protection of the vehicle. (3) Substantiation that a temporary exemption would facilitate the development or field evaluation of the vehicle; and (4) A statement of whether the petitioner intends to conform to the standard at the end of the exemption period; and (5) A statement that not more than 2,500 exempted vehicles will be sold in the U.S. in any 12-month period for which an exemption may be granted. b. Low-Speed Vehicles and FMVSS No. 500 Nuro states that the R2X would be a LSV. NHTSA defines an LSV as a motor vehicle: (1) That is 4-wheeled; (2) Whose speed attainable in 1.6 kilometers (1 mile) is more than 32 kilometers per hour (20 miles per hour) and not more than 40 kilometers per hour (25 miles per hour) on a paved VerDate Sep<11>2014 17:54 Mar 18, 2019 Jkt 247001 level surface; and (3) whose gross vehicle weight rating (GVWR) is less than 1,361 kilograms (3,000 pounds).8 Unlike other vehicle categories that must meet a wide array of FMVSSs and other standards, LSVs are only required to meet a single standard: FMVSS No. 500.9 Currently, FMVSS No. 500 requires that LSVs be equipped with headlamps, stop lamps, turn signal lamps, taillamps, reflex reflectors, parking brakes, rearview mirrors, windshields, seat belts for all designated seating positions, a vehicle identification number and a rear visibility (backup camera) system. NHTSA created the LSV classification and FMVSS No. 500 in June 1998 in response to safety concerns over the growing use of golf carts and other similar-sized, 4-wheeled ‘‘Neighborhood Electric Vehicles’’ (NEVs) on public roads.10 In developing FMVSS No. 500, NHTSA determined that, given the speed and weight limitations of the LSV classification, and the closed or controlled environments in which LSVs typically operate (usually planned communities and golf courses), there was not a safety need to apply the full range of FMVSS to them. Thus, the safety equipment required under FMVSS No. 500 is far more limited than what is required for other vehicle categories. Examples of FMVSS that are not applicable to LSVs include but are not limited to requirements related to antitheft, structural integrity, and flammability. Of the eleven requirements in FMVSS No. 500, Nuro states that it intends to meet seven requirements, believes that the requirement related to seat belts is inapplicable as the vehicle lacks any designated seating positions, and petitions for exemption from the remaining three requirements. First is S5(b)(6), which requires that LSVs be equipped with an exterior (rearview) mirror mounted on the driver’s side, and either an exterior mirror mounted on the passenger’s side of the vehicle or an interior mirror.11 Second is S5(b)(8), which requires that LSVs be equipped with a windshield that conforms to FMVSS No. 205. Third is S5(b)(11), CFR 571.3 No. 141, ‘‘Minimum sound requirements for hybrid and electric vehicles,’’ will apply to LSVs once it is phased in on September 1, 2020. 10 63 FR 33194 (June 17, 1998). 11 These rearview mirrors are not required to conform to FMVSS No. 111. which requires that LSVs be equipped with a rear visibility (backup camera) system that conforms to the requirements of S6.2 of FMVSS No. 111. III. Nuro’s Petition The following discussion provides: An overview of the R2X based on information submitted in Nuro’s petition; Nuro’s explanation of why it believes exemption is justified under the low-emission vehicle exemption basis; and the information that Nuro provided regarding the safety of its vehicle.12 a. Overview of the ‘‘R2X’’ Low-Speed Automated Delivery Robot Nuro contends that the R2X would be fundamentally different from any other vehicle with motive power currently regulated by NHTSA. Intended to provide retailers with local ‘‘last-mile’’ delivery services, the R2X would be designed without an occupant compartment (and thus, without any designated seating positions), nor is there any clear way for a human to enter the interior of the vehicle to use it for transportation. Instead, the R2X would be equipped with storage compartments in which goods, such as groceries, home goods, and hardware, may be placed for delivery to customers in urban or suburban ‘‘neighborhood’’ environments. See Figure 1 below showing the R2X with its gull wing cargo hatch covers open. To enable the operation of a vehicle lacking any occupant compartment, the R2X would be driven entirely by an L4 Automated Driving System (ADS), described in more detail below. 8 49 9 FMVSS PO 00000 Frm 00155 Fmt 4703 Sfmt 4703 12 NHTSA notes that the statements in the description of Nuro’s petition are attributable to Nuro. NHTSA will review and assess those statements in deciding whether to grant the petition. E:\FR\FM\19MRN1.SGM 19MRN1 Federal Register / Vol. 84, No. 53 / Tuesday, March 19, 2019 / Notices 13 We note that Nuro does not state whether the R2X is physically incapable of going faster, or whether its speed is limited by something that can be readily modified, such as software. As NHTSA has noted in prior interpretation letters, some modifications to vehicles are so fundamental that the agency would consider the act of modifying the vehicle to be the manufacture of a new vehicle. See letter to Susan Gabel (Feb. 16, 2005), available at https://isearch.nhtsa.gov/files/GF009529.html. Modifying a vehicle in such a way as to change its vehicle classification category arguably arises to that level of importance. In NHTSA’s view, because the safety features of an LSV are so fundamentally tied to its low speed and weight, changing its maximum speed or its weight to exceed the limits in the definition could be regarded as tantamount to the manufacture of a new vehicle of another classification. VerDate Sep<11>2014 17:54 Mar 18, 2019 Jkt 247001 weight’’ is its unloaded weight, whereas a vehicle’s GVWR is its loaded weight rating as specified by the manufacturer.) We note that Nuro does not provide the precise GVWR of the R2X, which is needed to determine whether the R2X would properly be classified as an LSV. Nuro also describes the aspects of the R2X that would permit automated driving, namely the L4 ADS and the suite of cameras, LIDAR 14 and radar sensors which provide the ADS information about the driving environment. As noted above, one of the key features that would make the R2X unique is that the driving task would be automated through the use of an L4 ADS. Nuro indicates throughout its petition that it has designed the R2X’s ADS to operate the vehicle on lowspeed surface roads in ‘‘neighborhood’’ environments.15 According to Nuro, the R2X would be equipped with 12 high definition cameras, radar sensors, and a top-mounted LIDAR that together provide the ADS with a 360° view of the vehicle’s surroundings. Nuro states that these cameras would be waterproof, rated to International Electrotechnical Commission (IEC) standard IP69K,16 and able to operate in temperatures between ¥40 °Celcius (C) and 85 °C. However, Nuro does not provide information on the operational capabilities of the radar and LIDAR systems. Regarding the ADS itself, Nuro states that its software would rely on ‘‘advanced machine learning’’ to improve its driving capabilities.17 Nuro explains this to mean that the driving 14 A LIDAR system, or a Light Detection And Ranging system, measures distance to objects by sending out pulses of light and measuring the time it takes for pulses to be reflected off objects back to the LIDAR system. 15 Nuro petition at 2, 3, 4, 8, 10, & 18. 16 Conformity to IEC IP69K indicates resistance to dust, steam, and high-pressure water. 17 Nuro petition, at 5. PO 00000 Frm 00156 Fmt 4703 Sfmt 4703 performance of the ADS would improve as the system is exposed to new or unfamiliar driving situations, which Nuro has thus far done using on-road testing and simulations. Nuro states it has conducted two on-road testing programs to develop the ADS used in the R2X.18 For the first program, Nuro retrofitted FMVSS-certified passenger vehicles with its ADS, and states that it has ‘‘continuously operated’’ these retrofitted vehicles (with a safety driver backup) on public roads for the past year. For the second program, Nuro operated a prototype of the R2X on the company’s private testing facility, which Nuro says is intended to simulate driving conditions in urban and suburban neighborhood settings. Nuro’s petition did not include additional information concerning either of these programs, including how many miles were driven and in what conditions. In addition, Nuro says that it has supplemented these real-world testing programs with testing in a wide variety of simulated environments. Nuro states that these testing programs have led to continuous safety improvements to the ADS, although Nuro does not provide the metrics by which the company measures the safety of the ADS, nor does Nuro provide specific information about how the ADS’s decision-making process works beyond general statements that the ADS would avoid collisions with obstacles. Nuro states that the R2X is intended to make ‘‘short neighborhood trips’’ to provide last-mile delivery services for retailers in urban or suburban neighborhood settings. Nuro states that the R2X would have ‘‘built-in’’ operational limits that are consistent with this intended use, such as a maximum speed of 25 mph, and being restricted to marked surface streets that 18 Nuro E:\FR\FM\19MRN1.SGM petition, at 18–19. 19MRN1 EN19MR19.003</GPH> Nuro states that the R2X’s propulsion system would be electric, and states it would be a low-emission vehicle as defined under Section 202 of the Clean Air Act because it would be a zeroemission vehicle that emits regulated air pollutants at levels ‘‘significantly below’’ what is permitted for new motor vehicles. Nuro also avers that the R2X would meet the elements of the LSV definition as follows: (1) An LSV must be 4-wheeled—Nuro states that the R2X would have 4 wheels; (2) An LSV must be capable of attaining a maximum speed of between 32 kilometers per hour and 40 kilometers per hour (20 miles per hour and 25 miles per hour) within 1.6 kilometers (1 mile) on a paved level surface—Nuro states that the R2X would be able to achieve a maximum speed of not more than 40 kilometers per hour (25 miles per hour); 13 and (3) An LSV must have a GVWR less than 1,361 kilograms (3,000 pounds). 49 CFR 571.3. Nuro also states that the vehicle would have an ‘‘unladen’’ weight (i.e., curb weight) of 1,134 kilograms (2,500 pounds), and that the vehicle’s GVWR would be less than the 1,361-kilogram (3,000-pound) limitation in the LSV definition. (A vehicle’s ‘‘curb 10175 10176 Federal Register / Vol. 84, No. 53 / Tuesday, March 19, 2019 / Notices Nuro has extensively pre-mapped.19 (Nuro specifically notes that it does not intend to relax these operational restrictions to permit Level 5 automation for the R2X.) Nuro states that, to ensure the safety and reliability of exempted vehicles, it does not intend to lease or sell them.20 Instead, Nuro intends to own and centrally operate the entire fleet of R2Xs through partnerships with local businesses such as retailers. The petition, though, does not provide further information about what Nuro means by ‘‘short neighborhood trips’’ or the operational limits Nuro would place on the R2X vehicles. For additional background information on Nuro’s vehicle, see Nuro’s report ‘‘Delivering Safety: Nuro’s Approach’’ at https:// static1.squarespace.com/static/57bcb0e 02994ca36c2ee746c/t/5b9a00848a922d 8eaecf65a2/1536819358607/delivering_ safety_nuros_approach.pdf. programs have consisted of operating its FMVSS-compliant vehicle on public roads autonomously, and operating the R2X in its private test track. Nuro argues that this testing has led to consistent improvements in the ADS’s driving performance, but that it has ‘‘nearly exhausted the safety gains’’ it can accrue from its existing research and testing programs. Accordingly, Nuro argues that an exemption is needed to enable Nuro to perform a greater volume of realworld testing on public roads, which the company says would ‘‘expose the R2X to a greater variety of real-world situations than can be achieved in simulation or through the use of other FMVSS-compliant hardware platforms.’’ 22 In addition, Nuro states that testing with ADS-equipped traditional passenger vehicles does not provide Nuro with information on how other road users would react to the R2X’s unique design, which is a critical element of the vehicle’s safety. b. Why Nuro Believes That Granting Its Petition Would Facilitate the Development or Field Evaluation of a Low-Emission Motor Vehicle c. Why Nuro Believes That Granting Its Petition Would Not Unreasonably Degrade Safety Nuro requests an exemption on the basis that an exemption is necessary to facilitate the development and field evaluation of a low-emission vehicle 21 (its R2X vehicle) and would not unreasonably lower the safety of that vehicle as compared to a vehicle that complies with the standard. Nuro claims that the exemption would facilitate the development the R2X’s ADS, which is necessary for developing and evaluating its low-emission R2X. Nuro states that because the R2X’s ADS relies on advanced machine learning to improve its level of safety, the R2X must be exposed to new driving scenarios. Nuro’s existing testing 19 Nuro petition, at 8. petition, at 3. 21 The legislative history of the low-emission vehicle exemption basis indicates the purpose of the basis was to encourage the development of new vehicle propulsion technologies. First, according to the Congressional Record, Congress enacted the predecessor to the low-emission vehicle basis (which temporarily authorized NHTSA to grant an exemption if it ‘‘would facilitate the development of vehicles utilizing a propulsion system other than or supplementing an internal combustion engine’’) as part of the 1968 Amendment to the Safety Act, Public Law 90–283 (April 10, 1968), to encourage the development of new propulsion technologies to address problem of urban air pollution. See 114 Cong. Rec. 7285 (1968) (Statement of Rep. Murphy). In 1972, Congress replaced this temporary exemption authority with permanent authority, and revised the language to what is currently found in 49 U.S.C. 30113(b)(3)(B)(iii), Public Law 92–548 (October 25, 1972), so as ‘‘not to stifle the development and evaluation of low-emission vehicles.’’ 118 Cong. Rec. 34209 (1972) (Statement of Sen. Hartke). 20 Nuro VerDate Sep<11>2014 17:54 Mar 18, 2019 Jkt 247001 For each of the three FMVSS No. 500 requirements from which Nuro requests an exemption, Nuro provides an analysis explaining why granting an exemption would not unreasonably degrade the safety of the R2X. Nuro’s safety analyses focus on the specific safety purposes that underlie the three individual requirements from which an exemption is sought, and discuss whether there is a safety need for each requirement on a vehicle that is controlled by an ADS. Using this framework, Nuro argues that an exemption from the three requirements in the petition would either not affect vehicle safety, or would improve vehicle safety. Nuro’s analyses of the safety impacts of granting its three requested exemptions are summarized below. i. Exterior Mirror Requirement Per FMVSS No. 500, S5(b)(6), all LSVs must be equipped with ‘‘an exterior mirror mounted on the driver’s side of the vehicle and either an exterior mirror mounted on the passenger’s side of the vehicle or an interior mirror.’’ Nuro states the R2X would differ from a compliant LSV because it would not be equipped with either exterior or interior mirrors for rear visibility. Nuro explains that the R2X would instead use a sensor-based system to detect obstacles and other objects in the surrounding environment. Nuro argues that an exemption from the mirror requirement would not unreasonably lower the safety of the R2X because the ADS does not use mirrors to perceive its surroundings for purposes of operating the vehicle.23 Rather, the R2X’s ADS perceives its surroundings using a suite of sensors that provide a continually-updated, complete 360-degree view of the area around the vehicle. Thus, Nuro argues that mirrors would not serve any safety purpose on the R2X, and that removing them would not lower safety. Beyond not serving any safety function on the R2X, Nuro further argues that the presence of exterior mirrors may actually present a safety risk to pedestrians, and that removing them would improve the safety of the R2X. First, Nuro explains that because the R2X is designed to operate in pedestrian-heavy environments (neighborhood streets), it would contain various features that are intended to protect pedestrians in a crash. These features would include design elements such as rounded edges that avoid direct strikes, and pedestrian ‘‘crumple zones’’ to reduce the severity of impacts. Nuro states that equipping the R2X with the required mirrors would interfere with these features. Nuro also states that mirrors might increase the likelihood of pedestrian impacts because they would widen the R2X’s profile, which may increase the risk of a collision in certain situations, such as when other road users pass the R2X too closely. ii. Windshield Requirement Per FMVSS No. 500, S5(b)(8), all LSVs are required to be equipped with ‘‘a windshield that conforms to the Federal motor vehicle safety standard on glazing materials (49 CFR 571.205).’’ Nuro states that the R2X would differ from a compliant LSV because it would not be equipped with a windshield of any kind. Instead, the front face of the R2X would be equipped with the various pedestrian safety features described in the previous section. Nuro argues that exempting the R2X from the windshield requirement would not unreasonably lower the safety of the R2X principally for two reasons.24 First, Nuro argues that the absence of human occupants in the R2X would make the windshield unnecessary for occupant protection because there would not be any risk that human occupants would could be injured by an impact with glazing or ejected from the R2X. Second, Nuro argues that there is not any need for a windshield to ensure driver 23 Nuro 22 Nuro PO 00000 petition, at 19. Frm 00157 Fmt 4703 24 Nuro Sfmt 4703 E:\FR\FM\19MRN1.SGM petition, at 8–10. petition, at 10–12. 19MRN1 Federal Register / Vol. 84, No. 53 / Tuesday, March 19, 2019 / Notices visibility because the driving task would be performed by the ADS, which would not require a transparent windshield to observe the driving environment.25 Nuro further states that meeting the windshield requirement could lower the safety of the R2X because the presence of a windshield made from FMVSS No. 205-compliant glazing could injure pedestrians in a collision due to its rigidity (if the glazing does not break), or due to the harm that could result if the glazing shatters. As noted in the previous section, Nuro argues that one of the primary pedestrian protection features of the R2X is that its design incorporates energy-absorbing pedestrian ‘‘crumple zones’’ that reduce collision impact severity. Nuro states that equipping the R2X with an FMVSS No. 205-compliant windshield would reduce the effectiveness of these pedestrian impact mitigation features. Finally, Nuro notes that, while the R2X would not be equipped with a windshield, the front of the vehicle would be equipped with a ‘‘plate’’ that resembles the appearance of a windshield. Nuro states that this design is intended to indicate to other road users the front of the vehicle, which would provide visual cues as to the R2X’s potential driving behavior, reducing confusion. iii. Rear Visibility (Backup Camera) Requirement 26 79 FMVSS No. 500, S5(b)(11), requires that all LSVs ‘‘comply with the rear 17:54 Mar 18, 2019 Jkt 247001 FR 19177. basis for stating that the R2X meets the Field of View and Image Size requirements is that the vehicle’s extensive array of cameras and sensors ‘‘display’’ a constant live image of the entire area surrounding the vehicle to the ADS, including the area behind the vehicle that must be displayed by the rear visibility system. Nuro provides an illustration of the area observed by the R2X’s rearfacing camera, which includes the area that must be displayed per FMVSS No. 111. 27 Nuro’s 25 We note that NHTSA stated in the final rule establishing FMVSS No. 500 that the agency had decided to require LSVs to use passenger vehicle glazing (as opposed to other materials that may be more durable) due to concerns that the visibility provided by other materials might degrade over time. 63 FR at 33211. VerDate Sep<11>2014 visibility requirements specified in paragraph S6.2 of FMVSS No. 111 [Rear visibility].’’ This requirement states that vehicles to which it applies must be equipped with a rear visibility (i.e., backup camera) system that produces an image of the area immediately behind the vehicle under specified test conditions. The standard includes a number of provisions that are designed to minimize the risk of backover crashes, such as requirements for minimum image size and quality.26 Nuro states that the R2X meets the ‘‘field of view’’ and ‘‘image size’’ requirements for rear visibility systems (FMVSS No. 111, S6.2.1–2),27 but requests an exemption from the ‘‘linger time’’ and ‘‘deactivation’’ requirements (FMVSS No. 111, S6.2.4–5), which require that the rear visibility image be deactivated under certain specified conditions. Nuro argues that exemption the R2X from the ‘‘linger time’’ and ‘‘deactivation’’ requirements would not unreasonably lower the safety of the vehicle because those requirements are intended to address a safety need that would not exist for the R2X. According to Nuro, the aspect of the ‘‘linger time’’ and ‘‘deactivation’’ requirements that is relevant to its request is that they both specify that the rear visibility image not be displayed when certain conditions PO 00000 Frm 00158 Fmt 4703 Sfmt 4703 10177 are met. According to Nuro, the purpose of these requirements is to protect against the possibility that a driver would be distracted by the rear visibility image when travelling in the forward direction. Nuro states that this risk would not exist for the R2X because the R2X’s ADS is not susceptible to distraction. Moreover, Nuro states that compliance with these requirements would be detrimental to the safety of the R2X, because compliance would require the R2X’s rear-facing camera and sensors to be deactivated under certain conditions, effectively partially blinding the ADS. In addition, while Nuro states that the R2X would meet the ‘‘field of view’’ and ‘‘image size’’ requirements, Nuro requests an exemption from four of the conditions in the test procedures that are used to verify compliance with those requirements because, according to Nuro, the R2X’s various unconventional design features would make the test conditions impossible to perform. These four test conditions are ‘‘fuel tank loading’’ (S14.1.2.2), ‘‘driver’s seat positioning’’ (S14.1.2.5), ‘‘steering wheel adjustment’’ (S14.1.7), and a portion of the ‘‘image response time test procedure’’ (S14.2). Although Nuro requests exemptions from these conditions, Nuro also suggests ways in which each of these four test conditions could be modified so that compliance could be verified using the R2X’s remote operation capability. The following table summarizes Nuro’s explanations for why these four required test conditions cannot be achieved with the R2X, and describes Nuro’s suggestions for modifying the test conditions for the purpose of compliance verification: E:\FR\FM\19MRN1.SGM 19MRN1 Federal Register / Vol. 84, No. 53 / Tuesday, March 19, 2019 / Notices d. Why Nuro Believes That Its Vehicle Is a Low Emission Vehicle In order to petition successfully under the low-emission vehicle exemption basis, the vehicle for which exemption is sought must meet the definition of ‘‘low-emission motor vehicle’’ at 49 U.S.C. 30113(a), meaning that it must be ‘‘a motor vehicle meeting the standards for new motor vehicles applicable to the vehicle under section 202 of the Clean Air Act when the vehicle is manufactured and emitting an air pollutant in an amount significantly below one of those standards.’’ 28 Nuro argues that its vehicle would meet that definition: The R2X is a zero-emission vehicle. It will emit no hydrocarbons, carbon monoxide, oxides of nitrogen, or particulate matter, which are four of the air pollutants regulated under the Clean Air Act. Its emissions are therefore significantly below the Clean Air Act standards.29 e. Why Nuro Believes That Granting Its Petition Would Be in the Public Interest Nuro argues that an exemption would be in the public interest because it states 28 ‘‘Motor vehicle,’’ for Clean Air Act purposes, means ‘‘any self-propelled vehicle designed for transporting persons or property on a street or highway,’’ so it appears that the R2X would qualify. 42 U.S.C. 7550. 29 Nuro Petition, at 7. VerDate Sep<11>2014 17:54 Mar 18, 2019 Jkt 247001 that the R2X would incorporate several design features to enable the ADS to operate reliably, and to minimize safety risks that may occur if the ADS malfunctions or otherwise encounters a driving situation it cannot handle. Further, according to Nuro, by allowing the company to develop a safer ADS, an exemption would lead to downstream environmental improvements and economic productivity. i. ADS Safety Throughout its petition, Nuro describes several design features or characteristics that it says illustrate the high level of safety that the R2X’s ADS would provide. First would be the ADS’s maneuvering capability. Nuro argues that the R2X’s low GVWR, combined with the absence of human passengers, would make the R2X capable of stopping or performing emergency maneuvers that are not possible for heavier vehicles with passengers. Moreover, Nuro states that the fact that the R2X would not have any human occupants means that it ‘‘has the unique opportunity to prioritize the safety of humans, other road users, and occupied vehicles over its own contents and chassis.’’ 30 We note, however, that the petition does not 30 Nuro PO 00000 petition, at 5. Frm 00159 Fmt 4703 provide information regarding the quality of the ADS’s decision-making process when performing the driving task. Nuro also states that the R2X would continuously perform self-diagnostics of vehicle systems. Nuro further states that safety-critical vehicle systems, including computing, steering, braking, and sensing systems would include redundancies for reliability, so that if a system or critical piece of equipment failed, the vehicle (including the ADS) would be able to continue operation. In the event that the R2X experienced a malfunction, the ADS’ programming would enable it to identify and pull over to a safe location nearby. Nuro states that the ADS would continuously map the area surrounding the R2X to track pull over locations, and that, should the R2X’s sensors fail, the ADS would pull the vehicle over using a trajectory calculated with data collected before the failure. In addition to these on-board features, Nuro states that the R2X would at all times be monitored by ‘‘experienced human operators who are extensively trained in the vehicle’s systems,’’ and would be able to take over driving control from the ADS if needed.31 According to Nuro, these remote 31 Training Sfmt 4703 E:\FR\FM\19MRN1.SGM program described in the VSSA. 19MRN1 EN19MR19.004</GPH> 10178 Federal Register / Vol. 84, No. 53 / Tuesday, March 19, 2019 / Notices operators would play a similar backup safety role as safety drivers utilized in other ADS vehicle testing programs. Nuro states that situations in which a human operator might take over include the detection of a sensor malfunction, a ‘‘pullover event,’’ or the alerting by the ADS of the remote operator that it has encountered a situation for which human operator control is recommended. Nuro states that the remote operation system would ensure connection reliability by using ‘‘several redundant, independent cellular connections with end-to-end encryption.’’ Moreover, Nuro states that the R2X would avoid areas known to have weak cellular service by relying on Nuro’s custom-built maps. Nuro also identifies additional design features that it states would further support the safe operation of the ADS. For example, Nuro states that a number of vehicle components, including the braking system, would perform at the same level as full-speed passenger cars. In addition, Nuro states that the R2X would be equipped with a sound generator to alert other road users to the vehicle’s presence and intent. These sounds are designed to mimic an internal combustion engine, and modulate based on the driving actions the R2X would take to indicate when the vehicle is accelerating and/or slowing down. ii. Environmental and Economic Benefits Nuro provides two additional nonsafety based arguments for why granting its petition would be in the public interest. First, Nuro argues that the R2X would provide environmental benefits by reducing pollution. According to Nuro, the electricity that would power the R2X can come from a wide-variety of sources, including alternative fuels, and because the deliveries it would displace are trips that would otherwise likely be made in gasoline-powered privately-owned passenger vehicles. Nuro believes that the R2X could also decrease the number of total trips by efficiently combining trips. Nuro, however, does not provide further information about the capabilities of the R2X’s propulsion system, such as its battery life, range, or efficiency. Second, Nuro argues that the R2X would increase economic productivity by, among other things, providing businesses with an additional option for delivering goods to local customers. These justifications are discussed in further detail in Nuro’s petition. VerDate Sep<11>2014 17:54 Mar 18, 2019 Jkt 247001 IV. Agency Review NHTSA has not yet made any judgment on the merits of Nuro’s petition nor on the adequacy of the information submitted. NHTSA will assess the merits of the petition after receiving and considering the public comments on this notice and the petition and responses to the questions in this notice, as well as any additional information that the agency receives from Nuro. NHTSA is placing a nonconfidential copy of the petition in the docket in accordance with statutory and administrative provisions. The agency will update the docket with any additional information it receives from Nuro and will extend or reopen the comment period for this petition as needed. V. Terms Once a manufacturer receives an exemption from the prohibitions of 49 U.S.C. 30112(a)(1), NHTSA can affect the use of those vehicles produced pursuant to the exemption only to the extent that NHTSA either has set terms in partially or fully granting the exemption or exercises its enforcement authority (e.g., its safety defect authority). The agency’s authority to set terms is broad. Since the terms would be the primary means of monitoring and affecting the safe operation of the exempted vehicles, the agency would consider carefully whether to establish terms and what types of terms to establish if it were to grant a petition. The manufacturer would need to agree to abide by the terms set for that exemption in order to begin and continue producing vehicles pursuant to that exemption. Nothing in either the statute or implementing regulations limits the application of these terms to the period during which the exempted vehicles are produced. NHTSA could set terms that continue to apply to the vehicles throughout their normal service life if it deems that such application is necessary to serve the interests of safety. Thus, if NHTSA were to grant an exemption, in whole or in part, it could establish, for example, reporting terms to ensure a continuing flow of information to the agency throughout the normal service life of the exempted vehicles, not just during the two-year period of exemption. Given the uniqueness of Nuro’s vehicle, its petition, the myriad of public safety concerns surrounding an occupant-less vehicle operating on public roads, and the fact only a small portion of the total mileage that the vehicles (if exempted) could be expected to travel during their PO 00000 Frm 00160 Fmt 4703 Sfmt 4703 10179 normal service life would have been driven by the end of the exemption period, NHTSA could require data to be reported over a longer period of time to enable the agency to make sufficiently reliable judgments. Such judgments might include those made in a retrospective review of the agency’s determination about the anticipated safety effects of the exemption. NHTSA could also establish terms to specify what the consequences would be if the flow of information were to cease or become inadequate during or after the exemption period. Other potential terms could include limitations on vehicle operations (based upon ownership and management, identified aspects of the operational design domains (ODD) such as speed, weather, road types, etc.). Conceivably, some terms could be graduated, i.e., restrictions could be progressively relaxed after a period of demonstrated safe driving performance. Further, as with data-sharing, it may be necessary to specify that these terms would apply to the exempted vehicles beyond the two-year exemption period. NHTSA notes that its regulations at 49 CFR part 555, ‘‘Temporary exemption from motor vehicle safety and bumper standards,’’ provides that the agency can revoke an exemption if a manufacturer fails to satisfy the terms of the exemption. NHTSA could also seek injunctive relief. VI. Request for Comments and Information NHTSA has set forth below a list of questions to elicit public feedback to aid the agency in determining how to address and resolve the variety of novel and important issues presented in the petition and how to promote, through the setting of terms, the safe operation of such vehicles if the agency ultimately decides to grant an exemption. Please note that answers supported by data and analysis will be given greater weight. Nuro is also encouraged to submit any supplemental information to the agency that the petitioner may deem persuasive. Commenters are requested to provide specific references to all sources for all studies, data, assumptions, scientific reasoning, and methodology they cite or submit. Statutory Basis for Exemption The choice of the basis for an exemption petition can significantly affect the scope and depth of the safety analysis and finding that NHTSA must make in order to grant an exemption. In view of this, the agency asks the following questions: E:\FR\FM\19MRN1.SGM 19MRN1 10180 Federal Register / Vol. 84, No. 53 / Tuesday, March 19, 2019 / Notices 1. To what extent and in what ways does the choice of the basis affect the scope, depth and appropriateness of the safety analysis and finding? 2. Is the basis for exemption (field evaluation of a low-emission vehicle (30113(b)(3)(B)(iii)) chosen by Nuro in its petition appropriate for the agency to use in determining whether to grant or deny an exemption for Nuro’s vehicle? If not, what basis would be appropriate, and why? 3. In lieu of the low-emission basis, would it be more appropriate to consider Nuro’s petition under 49 U.S.C. 30113(b)(3)(B)(ii) (field evaluation of a new motor vehicle safety feature) or 30113(b)(3)(B)(iv) (authority to grant exemptions from FMVSS for vehicles with an overall safety level at least equal to the overall safety level of nonexempt vehicles)? If so, why? 4. Independent of the agency’s disposition of this petition, NHTSA seeks comment on whether, and if so how, the agency should also consider creating a new vehicle classification category for light and/or low-speed passengerless ADS vehicles like the R2X to which a subset of FMVSS requirements would apply. The Development of a Low-Emission Vehicle 5. Nuro contends that an exemption is necessary facilitate the development of and LEV because it has ‘‘exhausted the safety gains that can accrue’’ from its current testing. Does the petition provide sufficient information to enable the agency to determine whether exempting the vehicle would make the development or field evaluation of a low-emission motor vehicle easier? If not, what additional information should the agency seek prior to rendering its final determination and why? 6. Does Nuro ADS’s reliance on ‘‘advanced machine learning’’ to improve driving performance justify public on-road testing to obtain additional ADS safety gains? Are there diminishing returns to continued testing with passenger cars retrofitted with ADS functionality? If AI machine learning is being used to continuously change its ADS software, how should the safety of the ADS be monitored and evaluated? Safety—General Questions 7. In determining whether to grant the petition, how should NHTSA consider whether an exemption would ‘‘unreasonably lower the safety level’’? Should this consideration be solely limited to safety level provided by the exempted standards or the safety of the vehicle more generally? VerDate Sep<11>2014 17:54 Mar 18, 2019 Jkt 247001 8. Is it appropriate for the agency to give any consideration to the quality of the performance of Nuro’s ADS as part of its assessment whether granting Nuro’s petition is in the public interest and consistent with the Safety Act? 9. How should safety considerations, including the performance of the ADS, be included in the ‘‘terms’’ of a granted exemption? 10. Does the petition provide sufficient information to enable the agency to determine whether exempting the vehicle would unreasonably degrade the safety of the vehicle? If not, what additional information should the agency seek prior to rendering its final determination and why? Safety—Exempted Standards 11. Is Nuro correct in its conclusion that the safety purposes of the three requirements from which it is requesting an exemption are not relevant to the R2X because it would not have any occupants? Do these requirements serve any safety purposes beyond those discussed in the petition? 12. Regarding the rear visibility requirement, how would the agency assess whether the R2X actually would meet the ‘‘field of view’’ and ‘‘image size’’ requirements? Safety—Performance of the ADS 13. To what degree could the R2X’s capabilities or ODD be changed through post-deployment software updates over the lifetime of the R2Xs for which Nuro is seeking an exemption? While Nuro states that it does not intend to ‘‘upgrade’’ the R2X’s ADS to L5, are there ODD or other changes Nuro should be able to make to the R2X over the lifetime of the vehicles? How should NHTSA address the possibility of such changes in conducting its safety analysis? 14. Did Nuro provide sufficient information about how the R2X would interact with human-controlled vehicles on the road? Should the agency be concerned about the front-end stiffness of the R2X and its impact on collision partners? 15. Did Nuro provide enough information about its design features to enable the ADS to operate reliably and to minimize safety risks that may occur if the ADS malfunctions or otherwise encounters a driving situation it cannot handle? If not, what should the agency ask to see? 16. Did Nuro provide enough information on development and testing to support the safety performance of the vehicle? Should more specificity on the types of sensors and their limitations be provided? PO 00000 Frm 00161 Fmt 4703 Sfmt 4703 17. Did Nuro provide enough information about pedestrian detection and mitigation strategies? Would the R2X be able to sense and respond appropriately around school buses, emergency vehicles, neighborhood construction, etc.? Would the R2X be able to understand traffic laws? 18. What communication protocols should the R2X follow when faced with unexpected human interactions, such as being pulled over by a police officer or being directed through a construction zone by a road worker? 19. How should the R2X’s ADS ‘‘prioritize’’ the safety of other road users? 20. What importance should NHTSA place on Nuro’s statement that some safety-critical components in the R2X perform at the levels required under the FMVSS, even though those requirements are not applicable to LSVs? 21. Would the pedestrian safety features described in the petition (rounded edges, pedestrian ‘‘crumple zones’’) be effective in the environment in which the R2X would be used? Can the effectiveness of these measures be validated? If so, should NHTSA require Nuro to provide testing data to demonstrate the effectiveness of these measures? 22. Did Nuro’s petition provide enough information regarding what types of ‘‘trigger’’ events would require the remote operator to take over? What sorts of events should ‘‘trigger’’ the remote operator to take over? Should these be specifically articulated as a term if the petition is granted? If so, did the petition provide sufficient information for the agency to establish such terms? 23. What additional situations and risk events (e.g., weather) should NHTSA consider when assessing the safe operation of the vehicle? 24. Would the various fail-safe protocols described in the petition provide a sufficient level of safety? What criteria/methodology should be used to assess their sufficiency? If the protocols are believed to be sufficient, explain why. If the protocols are not believed to be sufficient, explain why and discuss how the fail-safe protocols could be improved to deal with both expected and unexpected situations and events, so that they would provide a sufficient level of safety? 25. Did Nuro provide sufficient information concerning the training of the remote operators? What should be the level of training of remote operators? How should they be trained? How should be they evaluated? E:\FR\FM\19MRN1.SGM 19MRN1 Federal Register / Vol. 84, No. 53 / Tuesday, March 19, 2019 / Notices 26. How should remote operators ‘‘monitor’’ the R2X’s operation to detect reductions in or complete losses of its ADS’ functionality (i.e., could they observe the R2X’s sensor readings in real time, or would they simply wait for the ADS to send an alert)? How much discretion should the remote operator have in deciding whether to take control or decommission the vehicle? For the range of circumstances in which the remote operator is free to exercise discretion, what guidance should Nuro provide regarding whether it would be appropriate to take control? 27. Nuro states, if it receives the exemptions, it ‘‘would take a highly incremental and controlled approach to deployment’’ which would include extensive evaluation and mapping of any area where the vehicles would be deployed, and that ‘‘any early on-road tests would occur with human-manned professional safety drivers with override abilities supervising the vehicle for any anomalies in behavior.’’ 32 Over what portion of the R2X’s life would this level of supervision be provided? What would be the circumstances under which Nuro would reduce or eliminate its supervision? Once this initial testing period is over, what is the expected ratio of remote operators to R2Xs, and would this ratio change over time? What would be the human oversight protocol for the R2X once it is past the initial testing stage? 28. How frequently should Nuro update its maps for accuracy, especially with regard to the reliability of cellular data? What other information is mapped? 29. How should Nuro address the issue of the potential effects of cyber threats on safety? In particular, is Nuro’s assurance of ‘‘end-to-end encryption’’ sufficient for the agency to grant an exemption? If not, what additional assurances should Nuro provide? 30. Are there any additional safety considerations that the agency should analyze in deciding whether to grant Nuro’s petition? Other Public Interest Considerations 31. We seek comment on whether the potential environmental and economic benefits described by Nuro in its petition are sufficient (or sufficiently likely to occur) to enable NHTSA to make a finding that an exemption is in the public interest and is consistent with the Safety Act, per 49 U.S.C. 30113(b)(3)(A). 32. In particular, we seek comment on whether a petitioner under the lowemission vehicle exemption basis must 32 Nuro petition, at 19. VerDate Sep<11>2014 17:54 Mar 18, 2019 cite benefits that are directly related to the original purpose of 30113(b)(3)(B)(iii), which was to encourage the development of vehicles with low-emission propulsion technologies.33 Terms 33. If NHTSA were to grant Nuro’s petition, what would be the potential utility of NHTSA’s placing terms requiring the submission of the following categories of data? a. Statistics on use (e.g., for each functional class of roads, provide the number of miles, speed and hours of operation, climate/weather and related road surface conditions). b. Statistics and other information on performance (e.g., type, number, and causes, and results of collisions or near misses, disengagements, and transitions to fallback mechanisms, if appropriate). How can the term ‘‘near miss’’ best be defined so that there is uniform understanding of the term and consistent practices across manufacturers in the identifying and reporting of ‘‘near misses’’? c. Metrics that the manufacturer is tracking to identify and respond to progress toward higher levels of safety (e.g., miles without a crash and software updates that increase the ODD). d. Information related to measures to be taken by Nuro to address community, driver and pedestrian awareness, behavior, concerns, and acceptance related to vehicles with an ADS. e. Metrics or information concerning the durability of the ADS equipment and calibration, and need for maintenance of the ADS. For example, does the ADS work in all identified operating conditions or are there additional limitations? How are any limitations addressed and managed? f. Data on the initial and subsequent ODDs and software updates. g. For all categories of information, how should any concerns about confidential business information and privacy be addressed? 34. If there are other categories of data that should be considered, please identify them and the purposes for which they would be useful to the agency in carrying out its responsibilities under the Safety Act. 35. If the agency were to require the reporting of data, for what period should the agency require it to be reported—the two-year exemption period, the R2X’s entire normal service life, or a time period in between? 36. Given estimates that vehicles with high and full driving automation would 33 See Jkt 247001 PO 00000 footnote 21. Frm 00162 Fmt 4703 Sfmt 4703 10181 generate terabytes of data per vehicle per day, how should the need for data be appropriately balanced with the burden on manufacturers of providing and maintaining it and the ability of the agency to absorb and use it effectively? 37. If supporting information (including analysis, methodology, data, and computer simulation results involving proprietary systems or specialized computer programs) were submitted by Nuro under a request for confidential treatment and relied upon by the agency in its determination whether to grant or deny a petition, how can the public be provided with an evaluation and a justification for the determination that are transparent, readily understandable and persuasive? 38. Are there any mechanisms that may help further mitigate the underlying safety risks, if any, that might result from granting this petition? For example, what additional safety redundancies, if any, should NHTSA consider requiring as a condition to granting the exemption? 39. In the absence of information demonstrating the safe real-world operation of the Nuro vehicle, would it be prudent for NHTSA to place terms on the exemption to protect public safety? If so, what terms would be appropriate? In addition, what terms, if any, should the agency consider placing on an exemption to facilitate agency efforts to monitor the operations of exempted vehicles, and maximize the learning opportunities presented by the on-road experience of the exempted vehicles during the exemption period and thereafter? VII. Comment Period The agency seeks comment from the public on the merits of Nuro’s petition for a temporary exemption from three requirements in FMVSS No. 500, ‘‘Lowspeed vehicles.’’ We are providing a 60day comment period. After considering public comments and other available information, we will publish a notice of final action on the petition in the Federal Register. Please note that even after the comment closing date, we will continue to file relevant information in the docket as it becomes available. Further, some people may submit late comments. Accordingly, we recommend that you periodically check the Docket for new material. You can arrange with the docket to be notified when others file comments in the docket. See www.regulations.gov for more information. We will reopen or extend the comment period for this petition, as needed. E:\FR\FM\19MRN1.SGM 19MRN1 10182 Federal Register / Vol. 84, No. 53 / Tuesday, March 19, 2019 / Notices Authority: 49 U.S.C. 30113 and 49 U.S.C. 30166; delegations of authority at 49 CFR 1.95 and 49 CFR 501.8. Issued in Washington, DC, under authority delegated in 49 CFR 1.95 and 501.8. Heidi Renate King, Deputy Administrator. [FR Doc. 2019–05121 Filed 3–18–19; 8:45 am] BILLING CODE 4910–59–P DEPARTMENT OF TRANSPORTATION National Highway Traffic Safety Administration [Docket No. NHTSA–2019–0016] General Motors, LLC—Receipt of Petition for Temporary Exemption From Various Requirements of the Safety Standards for an All-Electric Vehicle With an Automated Driving System National Highway Traffic Safety Administration (NHTSA), Department of Transportation (DOT). ACTION: Notice of receipt of petition for temporary exemption; request for public comment. AGENCY: In accordance with the procedures in the Temporary Exemption from Motor Vehicle Safety and Bumper Standards, General Motors, LLC, (GM) has applied for a temporary exemption for its driverless ‘‘Zero-Emission Autonomous Vehicle’’ (ZEAV), an allelectric vehicle with an Automated Driving System (ADS), from part of each of 16 Federal Motor Vehicle Safety Standards (FMVSS). The ZEAVs would not be equipped with a steering wheel, manually-operated gear selection mechanism, or foot pedals for braking and accelerating. If the requested exemption were granted, GM would use the ZEAVs to provide on-demand mobility services in GM-controlled fleets. GM requests the exemption be granted on either or both of two statutory bases: That it would facilitate the development or field evaluation of a new motor vehicle safety feature providing a level of safety at least equal to those of FMVSS from which exemption is requested, or that it would facilitate the development or field evaluation of a low-emission vehicle without unreasonably lowering the safety performance of the vehicle. NHTSA seeks comment on the merits of and most appropriate statutory basis for GM’s exemption petition and whether the petition satisfies the substantive requirements for an exemption. SUMMARY: VerDate Sep<11>2014 17:54 Mar 18, 2019 Jkt 247001 NHTSA will assess the merits of the petition after receiving and considering the public comments on this notice, the petition, public responses to the questions in this notice, and any additional information that might be forthcoming from GM. DATES: Comments must be received on or before May 20, 2019. FOR FURTHER INFORMATION CONTACT: Stephen Wood or Justine Casselle, Office of the Chief Counsel, National Highway Traffic Safety Administration, 1200 New Jersey Avenue SE, Washington, DC 20590. Telephone: 202–366–2992; Fax: 202–366–3820. Comments: NHTSA invites you to submit comments on the petition described herein and the questions posed below. You may submit comments identified by docket number in the heading of this notice by any of the following methods: • Fax: 202–493–2251. • Mail: U.S. Department of Transportation, Docket Operations, M– 30, Room W12–140, 1200 New Jersey Avenue SE, Washington, DC 20590. • Hand Delivery: 1200 New Jersey Avenue SE, West Building Ground Floor, Room W12–140, Washington, DC, between 9 a.m. and 5 p.m., Monday through Friday, except Federal Holidays. • Federal eRulemaking Portal: Go to http://www.regulations.gov. Follow the online instructions for submitting comments. • Instructions: All submissions must include the agency name and docket number. Note that all comments received will be posted without change to http://www.regulations.gov, including any personal information provided. Please see the Privacy Act discussion below. NHTSA will consider all comments received before the close of business on the comment closing date indicated above. To the extent possible, NHTSA will also consider comments filed after the closing date. Docket: For access to the docket to read background documents or comments received, go to http:// www.regulations.gov at any time or to 1200 New Jersey Avenue SE, West Building Ground Floor, Room W12–140, Washington, DC 20590, between 9 a.m. and 5 p.m., Monday through Friday, except Federal Holidays. Telephone: 202–366–9826. Privacy Act: In accordance with 5 U.S.C. 553(c), DOT solicits comments from the public to better inform its rulemaking process. DOT posts these comments, without edit, to www.regulations.gov, as described in the system of records notice, DOT/ALL– PO 00000 Frm 00163 Fmt 4703 Sfmt 4703 14 FDMS, accessible through www.dot.gov/privacy. In order to facilitate comment tracking and response, we encourage commenters to provide their name, or the name of their organization; however, submission of names is completely optional. Whether or not commenters identify themselves, all timely comments will be fully considered. If you wish to provide comments containing proprietary or confidential information, please contact the agency for alternate submission instructions. Confidential Business Information: If you wish to submit any information under a claim of confidentiality, you should submit three copies of your complete submission, including the information you claim to be confidential business information, to the Chief Counsel, NHTSA, at the address given under FOR FURTHER INFORMATION CONTACT. In addition, you should submit two copies, from which you have deleted the claimed confidential business information, to Docket Management at the address given above. When you send a comment containing information claimed to be confidential business information, you should include a cover letter setting forth the information specified in our confidential business information regulation (49 CFR part 512). SUPPLEMENTARY INFORMATION: Table of Contents I. Background II. Authority and Procedures for Temporary Exemptions III. GM’s Petition A. Zero Emission Automated Vehicle i. Parent Vehicle—Chevrolet Bolt ii. Comparison of Bolt and ZEAV iii. Planned Usage of the ZEAV B. Safety Showing i. FMVSS No. 101 ii. FMVSS No. 102 iii. FMVSS No. 108 iv. FMVSS No. 111 v. FMVSS No. 114 vi. FMVSS No. 124 vii. FMVSS No. 126 viii. FMVSS No. 135 ix. FMVSS No. 138 x. FMVSS No. 141 xi. FMVSS Nos. 203, 204 and 207 xii. FMVSS No. 208 xiii. FMVSS No. 214 xiv. FMVSS No. 226 C. Low-Emission Showing D. Public Interest Argument E. Appendices F. Clarification IV. Agency’s Review of GM’s Petition V. Potential Types of Terms VI. Request for Comments and Information VII. Comment Period E:\FR\FM\19MRN1.SGM 19MRN1

Agencies

[Federal Register Volume 84, Number 53 (Tuesday, March 19, 2019)]
[Notices]
[Pages 10172-10182]
From the Federal Register Online via the Government Publishing Office [www.gpo.gov]
[FR Doc No: 2019-05121]


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DEPARTMENT OF TRANSPORTATION

National Highway Traffic Safety Administration

[Docket No. NHTSA-2019-0017]


Nuro, Inc.; Receipt of Petition for Temporary Exemption for an 
Electric Vehicle With an Automated Driving System

AGENCY: National Highway Traffic Safety Administration (NHTSA), 
Department of Transportation (DOT).

ACTION: Notice of receipt of petition for temporary exemption; request 
for public comment.

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SUMMARY: Nuro, Inc. (Nuro) has petitioned NHTSA for a temporary 
exemption from certain requirements in Federal Motor Vehicle Safety 
Standard (FMVSS) No. 500, which establishes standards for ``Low-speed 
vehicles,'' on the basis that an exemption would make the development 
or field evaluation of a low-emission vehicle easier without 
unreasonably lowering the safety of that vehicle. The vehicle for which 
Nuro requests an exemption is a low-speed, highly automated delivery 
vehicle intended to be operated without any human occupants and thus 
designed without any seating. Specifically, Nuro requests exemptions 
from the requirements in FMVSS No. 500 that its vehicle be equipped 
with rearview mirrors, a windshield that complies with FMVSS No. 205, 
and a rear visibility (backup camera) system that complies with FMVSS 
No. 111. Nuro states that the absence of human occupants, combined with 
the vehicle's various safety design features, including the vehicle's 
Automated Driving System (ADS), make compliance with these provisions 
of FMVSS No. 500 either unnecessary for, or detrimental to, the safety 
of pedestrians and cyclists.
    NHTSA is publishing this document in accordance with statutory and 
administrative provisions, and requests comments on this document and 
the petition submitted by Nuro. NHTSA will assess the merits of the 
petition and decide whether to grant or deny it after receiving and 
considering the public comments on this notice, the petition, public 
responses to the questions in this notice and such additional 
information as Nuro may provide.

DATES: Comments on this petition must be submitted by May 20, 2019.

FOR FURTHER INFORMATION CONTACT: Stephen Wood or Daniel Koblenz, Office 
of Chief Counsel, National Highway Traffic Safety Administration, 1200 
New Jersey Avenue SE, Washington, DC 20590. Telephone: 202-366-2992; 
Fax: 202-366-3820.
    Comments: NHTSA invites you to submit comments on the petition 
described herein and the questions posed below. You may submit comments 
identified by docket number in the heading of this notice by any of the 
following methods:
     Fax: 202-493-2251.
     Mail: U.S. Department of Transportation, Docket 
Operations, M-30, Room W12-140, 1200 New Jersey Avenue SE, Washington, 
DC 20590.
     Hand Delivery: 1200 New Jersey Avenue SE, West Building 
Ground Floor, Room W12-140, Washington, DC, between 9 a.m. and 5 p.m., 
Monday through Friday, except Federal Holidays.
     Federal eRulemaking Portal: Go to http://www.regulations.gov. Follow the online instructions for submitting 
comments.
    Instructions: All submissions must include the agency name and 
docket number. Note that all comments received will be posted without 
change to http://www.regulations.gov, including any personal 
information provided. Please see the Privacy Act discussion below. 
NHTSA will consider all comments received before the close of business 
on the comment closing date indicated above. To the extent possible, 
NHTSA will also consider comments filed after the closing date.
    Docket: For access to the docket to read background documents or 
comments received, go to http://www.regulations.gov at any time or to 
1200 New Jersey Avenue SE, West Building Ground Floor, Room W12-140, 
Washington, DC 20590, between 9 a.m. and 5 p.m., Monday through Friday, 
except Federal Holidays. Telephone: 202-366-9826.
    Privacy Act: In accordance with 5 U.S.C. 553(c), DOT solicits 
comments from the public to better inform its rulemaking process. DOT 
posts these comments, without edit, to www.regulations.gov, as 
described in the system of records notice, DOT/ALL-14 FDMS, accessible 
through www.dot.gov/privacy. In order to facilitate comment tracking 
and response, we encourage commenters to provide their name, or the 
name of their organization; however, submission of names is completely 
optional. Whether or not commenters identify themselves, all timely 
comments will be fully considered. If you wish to provide comments 
containing proprietary or confidential information, please contact the 
agency for alternate submission instructions.

[[Page 10173]]

    Confidential Business Information: If you wish to submit any 
information under a claim of confidentiality, you should submit three 
copies of your complete submission, including the information you claim 
to be confidential business information, to the Chief Counsel, NHTSA, 
at the address given under FOR FURTHER INFORMATION CONTACT. In 
addition, you should submit two copies, from which you have deleted the 
claimed confidential business information, to Docket Management at the 
address given above. When you send a comment containing information 
claimed to be confidential business information, you should include a 
cover letter setting forth the information specified in our 
confidential business information regulation (49 CFR part 512).

SUPPLEMENTARY INFORMATION:

Table of Contents

I. Introduction
II. Background
    a. Statutory Authority and Regulatory Requirements for Temporary 
Exemption Petitions
    b. Low-Speed Vehicles and FMVSS No. 500
III. Nuro's Petition
    a. Overview of the ``R2X'' Low-Speed Automated Delivery Robot
    b. Why Nuro Believes That Granting Its Petition Would Facilitate 
the Development or Field Evaluation of a Low-Emission Motor Vehicle
    c. Why Nuro Believes That Granting Its Petition Would Not 
Unreasonably Degrade Safety
    i. Exterior Mirror Requirement
    ii. Windshield Requirement
    iii. Rear Visibility (Backup Camera) Requirement
    d. Why Nuro Believes That Its Vehicle Is a Low Emission Vehicle
    e. Why Nuro Believes That Granting Its Petition Would Be in the 
Public Interest
    i. ADS Safety
    ii. Downstream Environmental and Economic Benefits
IV. Agency Review
V. Terms
VI. Request for Comments and Information
VII. Comment Period

I. Introduction

    This document notifies the public that NHTSA has received from Nuro 
Inc. (``Nuro'') a petition for a temporary exemption from three 
requirements of FMVSS No. 500, which establishes standards for ``Low-
speed vehicles.'' Nuro submits its request on the basis that an 
exemption would make the development or field evaluation of a low-
emission vehicle easier without unreasonably lowering the safety of 
that vehicle.\1\ The vehicle that is the subject of the petition is the 
``R2X,'' which Nuro describes as a highly automated (SAE Level 4 or 
simply L4),\2\ low-speed (25 mph maximum), electric-powered delivery 
robot. According to Nuro, the R2X would be designed to carry cargo 
exclusively, and accordingly would not have any passenger compartment 
or designated seating positions. The provisions of FMVSS No. 500 from 
which Nuro requests an exemption are the requirements that low speed 
vehicles (LSVs) be equipped with (1) rearview mirrors, (2) an FMVSS No. 
205-compliant windshield, and (3) an FMVSS No. 111-compliant rear 
visibility (backup camera) system. Because this vehicle would not have 
any designated seating positions, Nuro states that the vehicle should 
not be required to have any seatbelts, and, thus, does not need an 
exemption from that requirement. Nuro requests a two-year exemption, 
during which it seeks to be allowed to introduce fewer than 2,500 
exempted vehicles into interstate commerce for each 12-month period 
covered by the exemption.\3\
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    \1\ In the balance of this document, we will refer to this as 
the ``low-emission vehicle exemption basis.'' For more information, 
see 49 U.S.C. 30113(b)(3)
    \2\ The SAE International automation levels are commonly used to 
describe the degree to which a motor vehicle can operate 
autonomously. The levels of automation range from Level 0 (no 
automation) to Level 5 (complete automation with no limitations). A 
Level 4 (L4) vehicle such as the R2X is considered to have ``high 
driving automation'' which means that the vehicle can perform 100 
percent of the driving task within the vehicle's operational design 
domain.
    \3\ Nuro has requested that the agency withhold as confidential 
business information the precise number of vehicles it expects to 
deploy if an exemption is granted.
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    This notice solicits comments from the public to inform NHTSA's 
analysis of the merits of Nuro's petition under the low-emission 
vehicle exemption basis in 49 U.S.C. 30113. To this end, this notice 
includes requests for comments and poses specific questions regarding 
issues that NHTSA believes could be relevant in deciding whether to 
grant the petition. If commenters believe that there are other 
potentially relevant issues, NHTSA invites them to identify those 
issues and explain their potential relevance.

II. Background

a. Statutory Authority and Regulatory Requirements for Temporary 
Exemption Petitions

    The National Traffic and Motor Vehicle Safety Act (Safety Act), 
codified at Chapter 301 et seq., of title 49, United States Code, 
authorizes the Secretary of Transportation to exempt, on a temporary 
basis, under specified circumstances, and on terms the Secretary deems 
appropriate, motor vehicles from a FMVSS or bumper standard. This 
authority is set forth at 49 U.S.C. 30113. The Secretary has delegated 
the authority for implementing this section to NHTSA.\4\
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    \4\ 49 CFR 1.95.
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    The Safety Act authorizes the Secretary (by delegation, NHTSA) to 
grant, in whole or in part, a temporary exemption to a vehicle 
manufacturer if certain specified findings are made. The Secretary must 
look comprehensively at the request for exemption and find that the 
exemption is consistent with the public interest and with the 
objectives of the Vehicle Safety Act.\5\
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    \5\ 49 U.S.C. 30113(b)(3)(A).
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    In addition, the Secretary must make one of the following more-
focused findings:
    (i) Compliance with the standard[s] [from which exemption is 
sought] would cause substantial economic hardship to a manufacturer 
that has tried to comply with the standard[s] in good faith;
    (ii) the exemption would make easier the development or field 
evaluation of a new motor vehicle safety feature providing a safety 
level at least equal to the safety level of the standard;
    (iii) the exemption would make the development or field evaluation 
of a low-emission motor vehicle easier and would not unreasonably lower 
the safety level of that vehicle; or
    (iv) compliance with the standard would prevent the manufacturer 
from selling a motor vehicle with an overall safety level at least 
equal to the overall safety level of nonexempt vehicles.\6\
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    \6\ 49 U.S.C. 30113(b)(3)(B).
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    The third of these additional findings is the basis for Nuro's 
request for exemption. Nuro requests the Secretary to grant its 
petition based on a finding that the exemption is consistent with the 
public interest and with the Safety Act, and that the exemption would 
facilitate the development or field evaluation of a low-emission motor 
vehicle and would not unreasonably reduce the safety level of that 
vehicle.\7\ The statute further states that, for exemptions under this 
subsection, ``a record of the research, development, and testing 
establishing that the motor vehicle is a low-emission motor vehicle and 
that the safety level of the vehicle is not lowered unreasonably by 
exemption from the standard'' must also be included in the application.
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    \7\ 49 U.S.C. 30113(b)(3)(B)(iii).
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    NHTSA established 49 CFR part 555, ``Temporary Exemption from Motor

[[Page 10174]]

Vehicle Safety and Bumper Standards,'' to implement the statutory 
provisions concerning temporary exemptions. The requirements in 49 CFR 
555.5 state that the petitioner must set forth the basis of the 
petition by providing the information required under 49 CFR 555.6, and 
the reasons why the exemption would be in the public interest and 
consistent with the objectives of the Safety Act.
    A petition justified on the low-emission vehicle exemption basis 
must include the following information specified in 49 CFR 555.6(c):
    (1) Substantiation that the vehicle is a low-emission vehicle;
    (2) Research, development, and testing documentation establishing 
that a temporary exemption would not unreasonably degrade the safety or 
impact protection of the vehicle;
    (i) A detailed description of how the motor vehicle equipped with 
the low-emission engine would, if exempted, differ from one that 
complies with the standard;
    (ii) If the petitioner is presently manufacturing a vehicle 
conforming to the standard, the results of tests conducted to 
substantiate certification to the standard;
    (iii) The results of any tests conducted on the vehicle that 
demonstrate its failure to meet the standard, expressed as comparative 
performance levels; and
    (iv) Reasons why the failure to meet the standard does not 
unreasonably degrade the safety or impact protection of the vehicle.
    (3) Substantiation that a temporary exemption would facilitate the 
development or field evaluation of the vehicle; and
    (4) A statement of whether the petitioner intends to conform to the 
standard at the end of the exemption period; and
    (5) A statement that not more than 2,500 exempted vehicles will be 
sold in the U.S. in any 12-month period for which an exemption may be 
granted.

b. Low-Speed Vehicles and FMVSS No. 500

    Nuro states that the R2X would be a LSV. NHTSA defines an LSV as a 
motor vehicle: (1) That is 4-wheeled; (2) Whose speed attainable in 1.6 
kilometers (1 mile) is more than 32 kilometers per hour (20 miles per 
hour) and not more than 40 kilometers per hour (25 miles per hour) on a 
paved level surface; and (3) whose gross vehicle weight rating (GVWR) 
is less than 1,361 kilograms (3,000 pounds).\8\
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    \8\ 49 CFR 571.3
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    Unlike other vehicle categories that must meet a wide array of 
FMVSSs and other standards, LSVs are only required to meet a single 
standard: FMVSS No. 500.\9\ Currently, FMVSS No. 500 requires that LSVs 
be equipped with headlamps, stop lamps, turn signal lamps, taillamps, 
reflex reflectors, parking brakes, rearview mirrors, windshields, seat 
belts for all designated seating positions, a vehicle identification 
number and a rear visibility (backup camera) system.
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    \9\ FMVSS No. 141, ``Minimum sound requirements for hybrid and 
electric vehicles,'' will apply to LSVs once it is phased in on 
September 1, 2020.
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    NHTSA created the LSV classification and FMVSS No. 500 in June 1998 
in response to safety concerns over the growing use of golf carts and 
other similar-sized, 4-wheeled ``Neighborhood Electric Vehicles'' 
(NEVs) on public roads.\10\ In developing FMVSS No. 500, NHTSA 
determined that, given the speed and weight limitations of the LSV 
classification, and the closed or controlled environments in which LSVs 
typically operate (usually planned communities and golf courses), there 
was not a safety need to apply the full range of FMVSS to them. Thus, 
the safety equipment required under FMVSS No. 500 is far more limited 
than what is required for other vehicle categories. Examples of FMVSS 
that are not applicable to LSVs include but are not limited to 
requirements related to antitheft, structural integrity, and 
flammability.
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    \10\ 63 FR 33194 (June 17, 1998).
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    Of the eleven requirements in FMVSS No. 500, Nuro states that it 
intends to meet seven requirements, believes that the requirement 
related to seat belts is inapplicable as the vehicle lacks any 
designated seating positions, and petitions for exemption from the 
remaining three requirements. First is S5(b)(6), which requires that 
LSVs be equipped with an exterior (rearview) mirror mounted on the 
driver's side, and either an exterior mirror mounted on the passenger's 
side of the vehicle or an interior mirror.\11\ Second is S5(b)(8), 
which requires that LSVs be equipped with a windshield that conforms to 
FMVSS No. 205. Third is S5(b)(11), which requires that LSVs be equipped 
with a rear visibility (backup camera) system that conforms to the 
requirements of S6.2 of FMVSS No. 111.
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    \11\ These rearview mirrors are not required to conform to FMVSS 
No. 111.
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III. Nuro's Petition

    The following discussion provides: An overview of the R2X based on 
information submitted in Nuro's petition; Nuro's explanation of why it 
believes exemption is justified under the low-emission vehicle 
exemption basis; and the information that Nuro provided regarding the 
safety of its vehicle.\12\
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    \12\ NHTSA notes that the statements in the description of 
Nuro's petition are attributable to Nuro. NHTSA will review and 
assess those statements in deciding whether to grant the petition.
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a. Overview of the ``R2X'' Low-Speed Automated Delivery Robot

    Nuro contends that the R2X would be fundamentally different from 
any other vehicle with motive power currently regulated by NHTSA. 
Intended to provide retailers with local ``last-mile'' delivery 
services, the R2X would be designed without an occupant compartment 
(and thus, without any designated seating positions), nor is there any 
clear way for a human to enter the interior of the vehicle to use it 
for transportation. Instead, the R2X would be equipped with storage 
compartments in which goods, such as groceries, home goods, and 
hardware, may be placed for delivery to customers in urban or suburban 
``neighborhood'' environments. See Figure 1 below showing the R2X with 
its gull wing cargo hatch covers open. To enable the operation of a 
vehicle lacking any occupant compartment, the R2X would be driven 
entirely by an L4 Automated Driving System (ADS), described in more 
detail below.

[[Page 10175]]

[GRAPHIC] [TIFF OMITTED] TN19MR19.003

    Nuro states that the R2X's propulsion system would be electric, and 
states it would be a low-emission vehicle as defined under Section 202 
of the Clean Air Act because it would be a zero-emission vehicle that 
emits regulated air pollutants at levels ``significantly below'' what 
is permitted for new motor vehicles. Nuro also avers that the R2X would 
meet the elements of the LSV definition as follows:
    (1) An LSV must be 4-wheeled--Nuro states that the R2X would have 4 
wheels;
    (2) An LSV must be capable of attaining a maximum speed of between 
32 kilometers per hour and 40 kilometers per hour (20 miles per hour 
and 25 miles per hour) within 1.6 kilometers (1 mile) on a paved level 
surface--Nuro states that the R2X would be able to achieve a maximum 
speed of not more than 40 kilometers per hour (25 miles per hour); \13\ 
and
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    \13\ We note that Nuro does not state whether the R2X is 
physically incapable of going faster, or whether its speed is 
limited by something that can be readily modified, such as software. 
As NHTSA has noted in prior interpretation letters, some 
modifications to vehicles are so fundamental that the agency would 
consider the act of modifying the vehicle to be the manufacture of a 
new vehicle. See letter to Susan Gabel (Feb. 16, 2005), available at 
https://isearch.nhtsa.gov/files/GF009529.html. Modifying a vehicle 
in such a way as to change its vehicle classification category 
arguably arises to that level of importance. In NHTSA's view, 
because the safety features of an LSV are so fundamentally tied to 
its low speed and weight, changing its maximum speed or its weight 
to exceed the limits in the definition could be regarded as 
tantamount to the manufacture of a new vehicle of another 
classification.
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    (3) An LSV must have a GVWR less than 1,361 kilograms (3,000 
pounds). 49 CFR 571.3. Nuro also states that the vehicle would have an 
``unladen'' weight (i.e., curb weight) of 1,134 kilograms (2,500 
pounds), and that the vehicle's GVWR would be less than the 1,361-
kilogram (3,000-pound) limitation in the LSV definition. (A vehicle's 
``curb weight'' is its unloaded weight, whereas a vehicle's GVWR is its 
loaded weight rating as specified by the manufacturer.) We note that 
Nuro does not provide the precise GVWR of the R2X, which is needed to 
determine whether the R2X would properly be classified as an LSV.
    Nuro also describes the aspects of the R2X that would permit 
automated driving, namely the L4 ADS and the suite of cameras, LIDAR 
\14\ and radar sensors which provide the ADS information about the 
driving environment. As noted above, one of the key features that would 
make the R2X unique is that the driving task would be automated through 
the use of an L4 ADS. Nuro indicates throughout its petition that it 
has designed the R2X's ADS to operate the vehicle on low-speed surface 
roads in ``neighborhood'' environments.\15\ According to Nuro, the R2X 
would be equipped with 12 high definition cameras, radar sensors, and a 
top-mounted LIDAR that together provide the ADS with a 360[deg] view of 
the vehicle's surroundings. Nuro states that these cameras would be 
waterproof, rated to International Electrotechnical Commission (IEC) 
standard IP69K,\16\ and able to operate in temperatures between -40 
[deg]Celcius (C) and 85 [deg]C. However, Nuro does not provide 
information on the operational capabilities of the radar and LIDAR 
systems.
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    \14\ A LIDAR system, or a Light Detection And Ranging system, 
measures distance to objects by sending out pulses of light and 
measuring the time it takes for pulses to be reflected off objects 
back to the LIDAR system.
    \15\ Nuro petition at 2, 3, 4, 8, 10, & 18.
    \16\ Conformity to IEC IP69K indicates resistance to dust, 
steam, and high-pressure water.
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    Regarding the ADS itself, Nuro states that its software would rely 
on ``advanced machine learning'' to improve its driving 
capabilities.\17\ Nuro explains this to mean that the driving 
performance of the ADS would improve as the system is exposed to new or 
unfamiliar driving situations, which Nuro has thus far done using on-
road testing and simulations. Nuro states it has conducted two on-road 
testing programs to develop the ADS used in the R2X.\18\ For the first 
program, Nuro retrofitted FMVSS-certified passenger vehicles with its 
ADS, and states that it has ``continuously operated'' these retrofitted 
vehicles (with a safety driver backup) on public roads for the past 
year. For the second program, Nuro operated a prototype of the R2X on 
the company's private testing facility, which Nuro says is intended to 
simulate driving conditions in urban and suburban neighborhood 
settings. Nuro's petition did not include additional information 
concerning either of these programs, including how many miles were 
driven and in what conditions. In addition, Nuro says that it has 
supplemented these real-world testing programs with testing in a wide 
variety of simulated environments. Nuro states that these testing 
programs have led to continuous safety improvements to the ADS, 
although Nuro does not provide the metrics by which the company 
measures the safety of the ADS, nor does Nuro provide specific 
information about how the ADS's decision-making process works beyond 
general statements that the ADS would avoid collisions with obstacles.
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    \17\ Nuro petition, at 5.
    \18\ Nuro petition, at 18-19.
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    Nuro states that the R2X is intended to make ``short neighborhood 
trips'' to provide last-mile delivery services for retailers in urban 
or suburban neighborhood settings. Nuro states that the R2X would have 
``built-in'' operational limits that are consistent with this intended 
use, such as a maximum speed of 25 mph, and being restricted to marked 
surface streets that

[[Page 10176]]

Nuro has extensively pre-mapped.\19\ (Nuro specifically notes that it 
does not intend to relax these operational restrictions to permit Level 
5 automation for the R2X.) Nuro states that, to ensure the safety and 
reliability of exempted vehicles, it does not intend to lease or sell 
them.\20\ Instead, Nuro intends to own and centrally operate the entire 
fleet of R2Xs through partnerships with local businesses such as 
retailers. The petition, though, does not provide further information 
about what Nuro means by ``short neighborhood trips'' or the 
operational limits Nuro would place on the R2X vehicles.
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    \19\ Nuro petition, at 8.
    \20\ Nuro petition, at 3.
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    For additional background information on Nuro's vehicle, see Nuro's 
report ``Delivering Safety: Nuro's Approach'' at https://static1.squarespace.com/static/57bcb0e02994ca36c2ee746c/t/5b9a00848a922d8eaecf65a2/1536819358607/delivering_safety_nuros_approach.pdf.

b. Why Nuro Believes That Granting Its Petition Would Facilitate the 
Development or Field Evaluation of a Low-Emission Motor Vehicle

    Nuro requests an exemption on the basis that an exemption is 
necessary to facilitate the development and field evaluation of a low-
emission vehicle \21\ (its R2X vehicle) and would not unreasonably 
lower the safety of that vehicle as compared to a vehicle that complies 
with the standard. Nuro claims that the exemption would facilitate the 
development the R2X's ADS, which is necessary for developing and 
evaluating its low-emission R2X.
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    \21\ The legislative history of the low-emission vehicle 
exemption basis indicates the purpose of the basis was to encourage 
the development of new vehicle propulsion technologies. First, 
according to the Congressional Record, Congress enacted the 
predecessor to the low-emission vehicle basis (which temporarily 
authorized NHTSA to grant an exemption if it ``would facilitate the 
development of vehicles utilizing a propulsion system other than or 
supplementing an internal combustion engine'') as part of the 1968 
Amendment to the Safety Act, Public Law 90-283 (April 10, 1968), to 
encourage the development of new propulsion technologies to address 
problem of urban air pollution. See 114 Cong. Rec. 7285 (1968) 
(Statement of Rep. Murphy). In 1972, Congress replaced this 
temporary exemption authority with permanent authority, and revised 
the language to what is currently found in 49 U.S.C. 
30113(b)(3)(B)(iii), Public Law 92-548 (October 25, 1972), so as 
``not to stifle the development and evaluation of low-emission 
vehicles.'' 118 Cong. Rec. 34209 (1972) (Statement of Sen. Hartke).
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    Nuro states that because the R2X's ADS relies on advanced machine 
learning to improve its level of safety, the R2X must be exposed to new 
driving scenarios. Nuro's existing testing programs have consisted of 
operating its FMVSS-compliant vehicle on public roads autonomously, and 
operating the R2X in its private test track. Nuro argues that this 
testing has led to consistent improvements in the ADS's driving 
performance, but that it has ``nearly exhausted the safety gains'' it 
can accrue from its existing research and testing programs. 
Accordingly, Nuro argues that an exemption is needed to enable Nuro to 
perform a greater volume of real-world testing on public roads, which 
the company says would ``expose the R2X to a greater variety of real-
world situations than can be achieved in simulation or through the use 
of other FMVSS-compliant hardware platforms.'' \22\ In addition, Nuro 
states that testing with ADS-equipped traditional passenger vehicles 
does not provide Nuro with information on how other road users would 
react to the R2X's unique design, which is a critical element of the 
vehicle's safety.
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    \22\ Nuro petition, at 19.
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c. Why Nuro Believes That Granting Its Petition Would Not Unreasonably 
Degrade Safety

    For each of the three FMVSS No. 500 requirements from which Nuro 
requests an exemption, Nuro provides an analysis explaining why 
granting an exemption would not unreasonably degrade the safety of the 
R2X. Nuro's safety analyses focus on the specific safety purposes that 
underlie the three individual requirements from which an exemption is 
sought, and discuss whether there is a safety need for each requirement 
on a vehicle that is controlled by an ADS. Using this framework, Nuro 
argues that an exemption from the three requirements in the petition 
would either not affect vehicle safety, or would improve vehicle 
safety. Nuro's analyses of the safety impacts of granting its three 
requested exemptions are summarized below.
i. Exterior Mirror Requirement
    Per FMVSS No. 500, S5(b)(6), all LSVs must be equipped with ``an 
exterior mirror mounted on the driver's side of the vehicle and either 
an exterior mirror mounted on the passenger's side of the vehicle or an 
interior mirror.'' Nuro states the R2X would differ from a compliant 
LSV because it would not be equipped with either exterior or interior 
mirrors for rear visibility. Nuro explains that the R2X would instead 
use a sensor-based system to detect obstacles and other objects in the 
surrounding environment.
    Nuro argues that an exemption from the mirror requirement would not 
unreasonably lower the safety of the R2X because the ADS does not use 
mirrors to perceive its surroundings for purposes of operating the 
vehicle.\23\ Rather, the R2X's ADS perceives its surroundings using a 
suite of sensors that provide a continually-updated, complete 360-
degree view of the area around the vehicle. Thus, Nuro argues that 
mirrors would not serve any safety purpose on the R2X, and that 
removing them would not lower safety.
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    \23\ Nuro petition, at 8-10.
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    Beyond not serving any safety function on the R2X, Nuro further 
argues that the presence of exterior mirrors may actually present a 
safety risk to pedestrians, and that removing them would improve the 
safety of the R2X. First, Nuro explains that because the R2X is 
designed to operate in pedestrian-heavy environments (neighborhood 
streets), it would contain various features that are intended to 
protect pedestrians in a crash. These features would include design 
elements such as rounded edges that avoid direct strikes, and 
pedestrian ``crumple zones'' to reduce the severity of impacts. Nuro 
states that equipping the R2X with the required mirrors would interfere 
with these features. Nuro also states that mirrors might increase the 
likelihood of pedestrian impacts because they would widen the R2X's 
profile, which may increase the risk of a collision in certain 
situations, such as when other road users pass the R2X too closely.
ii. Windshield Requirement
    Per FMVSS No. 500, S5(b)(8), all LSVs are required to be equipped 
with ``a windshield that conforms to the Federal motor vehicle safety 
standard on glazing materials (49 CFR 571.205).'' Nuro states that the 
R2X would differ from a compliant LSV because it would not be equipped 
with a windshield of any kind. Instead, the front face of the R2X would 
be equipped with the various pedestrian safety features described in 
the previous section.
---------------------------------------------------------------------------

    \24\ Nuro petition, at 10-12.
---------------------------------------------------------------------------

    Nuro argues that exempting the R2X from the windshield requirement 
would not unreasonably lower the safety of the R2X principally for two 
reasons.\24\ First, Nuro argues that the absence of human occupants in 
the R2X would make the windshield unnecessary for occupant protection 
because there would not be any risk that human occupants would could be 
injured by an impact with glazing or ejected from the R2X. Second, Nuro 
argues that there is not any need for a windshield to ensure driver

[[Page 10177]]

visibility because the driving task would be performed by the ADS, 
which would not require a transparent windshield to observe the driving 
environment.\25\
---------------------------------------------------------------------------

    \25\ We note that NHTSA stated in the final rule establishing 
FMVSS No. 500 that the agency had decided to require LSVs to use 
passenger vehicle glazing (as opposed to other materials that may be 
more durable) due to concerns that the visibility provided by other 
materials might degrade over time. 63 FR at 33211.
---------------------------------------------------------------------------

    Nuro further states that meeting the windshield requirement could 
lower the safety of the R2X because the presence of a windshield made 
from FMVSS No. 205-compliant glazing could injure pedestrians in a 
collision due to its rigidity (if the glazing does not break), or due 
to the harm that could result if the glazing shatters. As noted in the 
previous section, Nuro argues that one of the primary pedestrian 
protection features of the R2X is that its design incorporates energy-
absorbing pedestrian ``crumple zones'' that reduce collision impact 
severity. Nuro states that equipping the R2X with an FMVSS No. 205-
compliant windshield would reduce the effectiveness of these pedestrian 
impact mitigation features.
    Finally, Nuro notes that, while the R2X would not be equipped with 
a windshield, the front of the vehicle would be equipped with a 
``plate'' that resembles the appearance of a windshield. Nuro states 
that this design is intended to indicate to other road users the front 
of the vehicle, which would provide visual cues as to the R2X's 
potential driving behavior, reducing confusion.
iii. Rear Visibility (Backup Camera) Requirement
    FMVSS No. 500, S5(b)(11), requires that all LSVs ``comply with the 
rear visibility requirements specified in paragraph S6.2 of FMVSS No. 
111 [Rear visibility].'' This requirement states that vehicles to which 
it applies must be equipped with a rear visibility (i.e., backup 
camera) system that produces an image of the area immediately behind 
the vehicle under specified test conditions. The standard includes a 
number of provisions that are designed to minimize the risk of backover 
crashes, such as requirements for minimum image size and quality.\26\ 
Nuro states that the R2X meets the ``field of view'' and ``image size'' 
requirements for rear visibility systems (FMVSS No. 111, S6.2.1-2),\27\ 
but requests an exemption from the ``linger time'' and ``deactivation'' 
requirements (FMVSS No. 111, S6.2.4-5), which require that the rear 
visibility image be deactivated under certain specified conditions.
---------------------------------------------------------------------------

    \26\ 79 FR 19177.
    \27\ Nuro's basis for stating that the R2X meets the Field of 
View and Image Size requirements is that the vehicle's extensive 
array of cameras and sensors ``display'' a constant live image of 
the entire area surrounding the vehicle to the ADS, including the 
area behind the vehicle that must be displayed by the rear 
visibility system. Nuro provides an illustration of the area 
observed by the R2X's rear-facing camera, which includes the area 
that must be displayed per FMVSS No. 111.
---------------------------------------------------------------------------

    Nuro argues that exemption the R2X from the ``linger time'' and 
``deactivation'' requirements would not unreasonably lower the safety 
of the vehicle because those requirements are intended to address a 
safety need that would not exist for the R2X. According to Nuro, the 
aspect of the ``linger time'' and ``deactivation'' requirements that is 
relevant to its request is that they both specify that the rear 
visibility image not be displayed when certain conditions are met. 
According to Nuro, the purpose of these requirements is to protect 
against the possibility that a driver would be distracted by the rear 
visibility image when travelling in the forward direction. Nuro states 
that this risk would not exist for the R2X because the R2X's ADS is not 
susceptible to distraction. Moreover, Nuro states that compliance with 
these requirements would be detrimental to the safety of the R2X, 
because compliance would require the R2X's rear-facing camera and 
sensors to be deactivated under certain conditions, effectively 
partially blinding the ADS.
    In addition, while Nuro states that the R2X would meet the ``field 
of view'' and ``image size'' requirements, Nuro requests an exemption 
from four of the conditions in the test procedures that are used to 
verify compliance with those requirements because, according to Nuro, 
the R2X's various unconventional design features would make the test 
conditions impossible to perform. These four test conditions are ``fuel 
tank loading'' (S14.1.2.2), ``driver's seat positioning'' (S14.1.2.5), 
``steering wheel adjustment'' (S14.1.7), and a portion of the ``image 
response time test procedure'' (S14.2). Although Nuro requests 
exemptions from these conditions, Nuro also suggests ways in which each 
of these four test conditions could be modified so that compliance 
could be verified using the R2X's remote operation capability. The 
following table summarizes Nuro's explanations for why these four 
required test conditions cannot be achieved with the R2X, and describes 
Nuro's suggestions for modifying the test conditions for the purpose of 
compliance verification:

[[Page 10178]]

[GRAPHIC] [TIFF OMITTED] TN19MR19.004

d. Why Nuro Believes That Its Vehicle Is a Low Emission Vehicle

    In order to petition successfully under the low-emission vehicle 
exemption basis, the vehicle for which exemption is sought must meet 
the definition of ``low-emission motor vehicle'' at 49 U.S.C. 30113(a), 
meaning that it must be ``a motor vehicle meeting the standards for new 
motor vehicles applicable to the vehicle under section 202 of the Clean 
Air Act when the vehicle is manufactured and emitting an air pollutant 
in an amount significantly below one of those standards.'' \28\
---------------------------------------------------------------------------

    \28\ ``Motor vehicle,'' for Clean Air Act purposes, means ``any 
self-propelled vehicle designed for transporting persons or property 
on a street or highway,'' so it appears that the R2X would qualify. 
42 U.S.C. 7550.
---------------------------------------------------------------------------

    Nuro argues that its vehicle would meet that definition:

    The R2X is a zero-emission vehicle. It will emit no 
hydrocarbons, carbon monoxide, oxides of nitrogen, or particulate 
matter, which are four of the air pollutants regulated under the 
Clean Air Act. Its emissions are therefore significantly below the 
Clean Air Act standards.\29\
---------------------------------------------------------------------------

    \29\ Nuro Petition, at 7.
---------------------------------------------------------------------------

e. Why Nuro Believes That Granting Its Petition Would Be in the Public 
Interest

    Nuro argues that an exemption would be in the public interest 
because it states that the R2X would incorporate several design 
features to enable the ADS to operate reliably, and to minimize safety 
risks that may occur if the ADS malfunctions or otherwise encounters a 
driving situation it cannot handle. Further, according to Nuro, by 
allowing the company to develop a safer ADS, an exemption would lead to 
downstream environmental improvements and economic productivity.
i. ADS Safety
    Throughout its petition, Nuro describes several design features or 
characteristics that it says illustrate the high level of safety that 
the R2X's ADS would provide. First would be the ADS's maneuvering 
capability. Nuro argues that the R2X's low GVWR, combined with the 
absence of human passengers, would make the R2X capable of stopping or 
performing emergency maneuvers that are not possible for heavier 
vehicles with passengers. Moreover, Nuro states that the fact that the 
R2X would not have any human occupants means that it ``has the unique 
opportunity to prioritize the safety of humans, other road users, and 
occupied vehicles over its own contents and chassis.'' \30\ We note, 
however, that the petition does not provide information regarding the 
quality of the ADS's decision-making process when performing the 
driving task.
---------------------------------------------------------------------------

    \30\ Nuro petition, at 5.
---------------------------------------------------------------------------

    Nuro also states that the R2X would continuously perform self-
diagnostics of vehicle systems. Nuro further states that safety-
critical vehicle systems, including computing, steering, braking, and 
sensing systems would include redundancies for reliability, so that if 
a system or critical piece of equipment failed, the vehicle (including 
the ADS) would be able to continue operation. In the event that the R2X 
experienced a malfunction, the ADS' programming would enable it to 
identify and pull over to a safe location nearby. Nuro states that the 
ADS would continuously map the area surrounding the R2X to track pull 
over locations, and that, should the R2X's sensors fail, the ADS would 
pull the vehicle over using a trajectory calculated with data collected 
before the failure.
    In addition to these on-board features, Nuro states that the R2X 
would at all times be monitored by ``experienced human operators who 
are extensively trained in the vehicle's systems,'' and would be able 
to take over driving control from the ADS if needed.\31\ According to 
Nuro, these remote

[[Page 10179]]

operators would play a similar backup safety role as safety drivers 
utilized in other ADS vehicle testing programs. Nuro states that 
situations in which a human operator might take over include the 
detection of a sensor malfunction, a ``pullover event,'' or the 
alerting by the ADS of the remote operator that it has encountered a 
situation for which human operator control is recommended. Nuro states 
that the remote operation system would ensure connection reliability by 
using ``several redundant, independent cellular connections with end-
to-end encryption.'' Moreover, Nuro states that the R2X would avoid 
areas known to have weak cellular service by relying on Nuro's custom-
built maps.
---------------------------------------------------------------------------

    \31\ Training program described in the VSSA.
---------------------------------------------------------------------------

    Nuro also identifies additional design features that it states 
would further support the safe operation of the ADS. For example, Nuro 
states that a number of vehicle components, including the braking 
system, would perform at the same level as full-speed passenger cars. 
In addition, Nuro states that the R2X would be equipped with a sound 
generator to alert other road users to the vehicle's presence and 
intent. These sounds are designed to mimic an internal combustion 
engine, and modulate based on the driving actions the R2X would take to 
indicate when the vehicle is accelerating and/or slowing down.
ii. Environmental and Economic Benefits
    Nuro provides two additional non-safety based arguments for why 
granting its petition would be in the public interest. First, Nuro 
argues that the R2X would provide environmental benefits by reducing 
pollution. According to Nuro, the electricity that would power the R2X 
can come from a wide-variety of sources, including alternative fuels, 
and because the deliveries it would displace are trips that would 
otherwise likely be made in gasoline-powered privately-owned passenger 
vehicles. Nuro believes that the R2X could also decrease the number of 
total trips by efficiently combining trips. Nuro, however, does not 
provide further information about the capabilities of the R2X's 
propulsion system, such as its battery life, range, or efficiency. 
Second, Nuro argues that the R2X would increase economic productivity 
by, among other things, providing businesses with an additional option 
for delivering goods to local customers. These justifications are 
discussed in further detail in Nuro's petition.

IV. Agency Review

    NHTSA has not yet made any judgment on the merits of Nuro's 
petition nor on the adequacy of the information submitted. NHTSA will 
assess the merits of the petition after receiving and considering the 
public comments on this notice and the petition and responses to the 
questions in this notice, as well as any additional information that 
the agency receives from Nuro. NHTSA is placing a non-confidential copy 
of the petition in the docket in accordance with statutory and 
administrative provisions. The agency will update the docket with any 
additional information it receives from Nuro and will extend or reopen 
the comment period for this petition as needed.

V. Terms

    Once a manufacturer receives an exemption from the prohibitions of 
49 U.S.C. 30112(a)(1), NHTSA can affect the use of those vehicles 
produced pursuant to the exemption only to the extent that NHTSA either 
has set terms in partially or fully granting the exemption or exercises 
its enforcement authority (e.g., its safety defect authority). The 
agency's authority to set terms is broad. Since the terms would be the 
primary means of monitoring and affecting the safe operation of the 
exempted vehicles, the agency would consider carefully whether to 
establish terms and what types of terms to establish if it were to 
grant a petition. The manufacturer would need to agree to abide by the 
terms set for that exemption in order to begin and continue producing 
vehicles pursuant to that exemption.
    Nothing in either the statute or implementing regulations limits 
the application of these terms to the period during which the exempted 
vehicles are produced. NHTSA could set terms that continue to apply to 
the vehicles throughout their normal service life if it deems that such 
application is necessary to serve the interests of safety.
    Thus, if NHTSA were to grant an exemption, in whole or in part, it 
could establish, for example, reporting terms to ensure a continuing 
flow of information to the agency throughout the normal service life of 
the exempted vehicles, not just during the two-year period of 
exemption. Given the uniqueness of Nuro's vehicle, its petition, the 
myriad of public safety concerns surrounding an occupant-less vehicle 
operating on public roads, and the fact only a small portion of the 
total mileage that the vehicles (if exempted) could be expected to 
travel during their normal service life would have been driven by the 
end of the exemption period, NHTSA could require data to be reported 
over a longer period of time to enable the agency to make sufficiently 
reliable judgments. Such judgments might include those made in a 
retrospective review of the agency's determination about the 
anticipated safety effects of the exemption.
    NHTSA could also establish terms to specify what the consequences 
would be if the flow of information were to cease or become inadequate 
during or after the exemption period. Other potential terms could 
include limitations on vehicle operations (based upon ownership and 
management, identified aspects of the operational design domains (ODD) 
such as speed, weather, road types, etc.). Conceivably, some terms 
could be graduated, i.e., restrictions could be progressively relaxed 
after a period of demonstrated safe driving performance. Further, as 
with data-sharing, it may be necessary to specify that these terms 
would apply to the exempted vehicles beyond the two-year exemption 
period.
    NHTSA notes that its regulations at 49 CFR part 555, ``Temporary 
exemption from motor vehicle safety and bumper standards,'' provides 
that the agency can revoke an exemption if a manufacturer fails to 
satisfy the terms of the exemption. NHTSA could also seek injunctive 
relief.

VI. Request for Comments and Information

    NHTSA has set forth below a list of questions to elicit public 
feedback to aid the agency in determining how to address and resolve 
the variety of novel and important issues presented in the petition and 
how to promote, through the setting of terms, the safe operation of 
such vehicles if the agency ultimately decides to grant an exemption. 
Please note that answers supported by data and analysis will be given 
greater weight.
    Nuro is also encouraged to submit any supplemental information to 
the agency that the petitioner may deem persuasive. Commenters are 
requested to provide specific references to all sources for all 
studies, data, assumptions, scientific reasoning, and methodology they 
cite or submit.

Statutory Basis for Exemption

    The choice of the basis for an exemption petition can significantly 
affect the scope and depth of the safety analysis and finding that 
NHTSA must make in order to grant an exemption. In view of this, the 
agency asks the following questions:

[[Page 10180]]

    1. To what extent and in what ways does the choice of the basis 
affect the scope, depth and appropriateness of the safety analysis and 
finding?
    2. Is the basis for exemption (field evaluation of a low-emission 
vehicle (30113(b)(3)(B)(iii)) chosen by Nuro in its petition 
appropriate for the agency to use in determining whether to grant or 
deny an exemption for Nuro's vehicle? If not, what basis would be 
appropriate, and why?
    3. In lieu of the low-emission basis, would it be more appropriate 
to consider Nuro's petition under 49 U.S.C. 30113(b)(3)(B)(ii) (field 
evaluation of a new motor vehicle safety feature) or 30113(b)(3)(B)(iv) 
(authority to grant exemptions from FMVSS for vehicles with an overall 
safety level at least equal to the overall safety level of nonexempt 
vehicles)? If so, why?
    4. Independent of the agency's disposition of this petition, NHTSA 
seeks comment on whether, and if so how, the agency should also 
consider creating a new vehicle classification category for light and/
or low-speed passengerless ADS vehicles like the R2X to which a subset 
of FMVSS requirements would apply.

The Development of a Low-Emission Vehicle

    5. Nuro contends that an exemption is necessary facilitate the 
development of and LEV because it has ``exhausted the safety gains that 
can accrue'' from its current testing. Does the petition provide 
sufficient information to enable the agency to determine whether 
exempting the vehicle would make the development or field evaluation of 
a low-emission motor vehicle easier? If not, what additional 
information should the agency seek prior to rendering its final 
determination and why?
    6. Does Nuro ADS's reliance on ``advanced machine learning'' to 
improve driving performance justify public on-road testing to obtain 
additional ADS safety gains? Are there diminishing returns to continued 
testing with passenger cars retrofitted with ADS functionality? If AI 
machine learning is being used to continuously change its ADS software, 
how should the safety of the ADS be monitored and evaluated?

Safety--General Questions

    7. In determining whether to grant the petition, how should NHTSA 
consider whether an exemption would ``unreasonably lower the safety 
level''? Should this consideration be solely limited to safety level 
provided by the exempted standards or the safety of the vehicle more 
generally?
    8. Is it appropriate for the agency to give any consideration to 
the quality of the performance of Nuro's ADS as part of its assessment 
whether granting Nuro's petition is in the public interest and 
consistent with the Safety Act?
    9. How should safety considerations, including the performance of 
the ADS, be included in the ``terms'' of a granted exemption?
    10. Does the petition provide sufficient information to enable the 
agency to determine whether exempting the vehicle would unreasonably 
degrade the safety of the vehicle? If not, what additional information 
should the agency seek prior to rendering its final determination and 
why?

Safety--Exempted Standards

    11. Is Nuro correct in its conclusion that the safety purposes of 
the three requirements from which it is requesting an exemption are not 
relevant to the R2X because it would not have any occupants? Do these 
requirements serve any safety purposes beyond those discussed in the 
petition?
    12. Regarding the rear visibility requirement, how would the agency 
assess whether the R2X actually would meet the ``field of view'' and 
``image size'' requirements?

Safety--Performance of the ADS

    13. To what degree could the R2X's capabilities or ODD be changed 
through post-deployment software updates over the lifetime of the R2Xs 
for which Nuro is seeking an exemption? While Nuro states that it does 
not intend to ``upgrade'' the R2X's ADS to L5, are there ODD or other 
changes Nuro should be able to make to the R2X over the lifetime of the 
vehicles? How should NHTSA address the possibility of such changes in 
conducting its safety analysis?
    14. Did Nuro provide sufficient information about how the R2X would 
interact with human-controlled vehicles on the road? Should the agency 
be concerned about the front-end stiffness of the R2X and its impact on 
collision partners?
    15. Did Nuro provide enough information about its design features 
to enable the ADS to operate reliably and to minimize safety risks that 
may occur if the ADS malfunctions or otherwise encounters a driving 
situation it cannot handle? If not, what should the agency ask to see?
    16. Did Nuro provide enough information on development and testing 
to support the safety performance of the vehicle? Should more 
specificity on the types of sensors and their limitations be provided?
    17. Did Nuro provide enough information about pedestrian detection 
and mitigation strategies? Would the R2X be able to sense and respond 
appropriately around school buses, emergency vehicles, neighborhood 
construction, etc.? Would the R2X be able to understand traffic laws?
    18. What communication protocols should the R2X follow when faced 
with unexpected human interactions, such as being pulled over by a 
police officer or being directed through a construction zone by a road 
worker?
    19. How should the R2X's ADS ``prioritize'' the safety of other 
road users?
    20. What importance should NHTSA place on Nuro's statement that 
some safety-critical components in the R2X perform at the levels 
required under the FMVSS, even though those requirements are not 
applicable to LSVs?
    21. Would the pedestrian safety features described in the petition 
(rounded edges, pedestrian ``crumple zones'') be effective in the 
environment in which the R2X would be used? Can the effectiveness of 
these measures be validated? If so, should NHTSA require Nuro to 
provide testing data to demonstrate the effectiveness of these 
measures?
    22. Did Nuro's petition provide enough information regarding what 
types of ``trigger'' events would require the remote operator to take 
over? What sorts of events should ``trigger'' the remote operator to 
take over? Should these be specifically articulated as a term if the 
petition is granted? If so, did the petition provide sufficient 
information for the agency to establish such terms?
    23. What additional situations and risk events (e.g., weather) 
should NHTSA consider when assessing the safe operation of the vehicle?
    24. Would the various fail-safe protocols described in the petition 
provide a sufficient level of safety? What criteria/methodology should 
be used to assess their sufficiency? If the protocols are believed to 
be sufficient, explain why. If the protocols are not believed to be 
sufficient, explain why and discuss how the fail-safe protocols could 
be improved to deal with both expected and unexpected situations and 
events, so that they would provide a sufficient level of safety?
    25. Did Nuro provide sufficient information concerning the training 
of the remote operators? What should be the level of training of remote 
operators? How should they be trained? How should be they evaluated?

[[Page 10181]]

    26. How should remote operators ``monitor'' the R2X's operation to 
detect reductions in or complete losses of its ADS' functionality 
(i.e., could they observe the R2X's sensor readings in real time, or 
would they simply wait for the ADS to send an alert)? How much 
discretion should the remote operator have in deciding whether to take 
control or decommission the vehicle? For the range of circumstances in 
which the remote operator is free to exercise discretion, what guidance 
should Nuro provide regarding whether it would be appropriate to take 
control?
    27. Nuro states, if it receives the exemptions, it ``would take a 
highly incremental and controlled approach to deployment'' which would 
include extensive evaluation and mapping of any area where the vehicles 
would be deployed, and that ``any early on-road tests would occur with 
human-manned professional safety drivers with override abilities 
supervising the vehicle for any anomalies in behavior.'' \32\ Over what 
portion of the R2X's life would this level of supervision be provided? 
What would be the circumstances under which Nuro would reduce or 
eliminate its supervision? Once this initial testing period is over, 
what is the expected ratio of remote operators to R2Xs, and would this 
ratio change over time? What would be the human oversight protocol for 
the R2X once it is past the initial testing stage?
---------------------------------------------------------------------------

    \32\ Nuro petition, at 19.
---------------------------------------------------------------------------

    28. How frequently should Nuro update its maps for accuracy, 
especially with regard to the reliability of cellular data? What other 
information is mapped?
    29. How should Nuro address the issue of the potential effects of 
cyber threats on safety? In particular, is Nuro's assurance of ``end-
to-end encryption'' sufficient for the agency to grant an exemption? If 
not, what additional assurances should Nuro provide?
    30. Are there any additional safety considerations that the agency 
should analyze in deciding whether to grant Nuro's petition?

Other Public Interest Considerations

    31. We seek comment on whether the potential environmental and 
economic benefits described by Nuro in its petition are sufficient (or 
sufficiently likely to occur) to enable NHTSA to make a finding that an 
exemption is in the public interest and is consistent with the Safety 
Act, per 49 U.S.C. 30113(b)(3)(A).
    32. In particular, we seek comment on whether a petitioner under 
the low-emission vehicle exemption basis must cite benefits that are 
directly related to the original purpose of 30113(b)(3)(B)(iii), which 
was to encourage the development of vehicles with low-emission 
propulsion technologies.\33\
---------------------------------------------------------------------------

    \33\ See footnote 21.
---------------------------------------------------------------------------

Terms

    33. If NHTSA were to grant Nuro's petition, what would be the 
potential utility of NHTSA's placing terms requiring the submission of 
the following categories of data?
    a. Statistics on use (e.g., for each functional class of roads, 
provide the number of miles, speed and hours of operation, climate/
weather and related road surface conditions).
    b. Statistics and other information on performance (e.g., type, 
number, and causes, and results of collisions or near misses, 
disengagements, and transitions to fallback mechanisms, if 
appropriate). How can the term ``near miss'' best be defined so that 
there is uniform understanding of the term and consistent practices 
across manufacturers in the identifying and reporting of ``near 
misses''?
    c. Metrics that the manufacturer is tracking to identify and 
respond to progress toward higher levels of safety (e.g., miles without 
a crash and software updates that increase the ODD).
    d. Information related to measures to be taken by Nuro to address 
community, driver and pedestrian awareness, behavior, concerns, and 
acceptance related to vehicles with an ADS.
    e. Metrics or information concerning the durability of the ADS 
equipment and calibration, and need for maintenance of the ADS. For 
example, does the ADS work in all identified operating conditions or 
are there additional limitations? How are any limitations addressed and 
managed?
    f. Data on the initial and subsequent ODDs and software updates.
    g. For all categories of information, how should any concerns about 
confidential business information and privacy be addressed?
    34. If there are other categories of data that should be 
considered, please identify them and the purposes for which they would 
be useful to the agency in carrying out its responsibilities under the 
Safety Act.
    35. If the agency were to require the reporting of data, for what 
period should the agency require it to be reported--the two-year 
exemption period, the R2X's entire normal service life, or a time 
period in between?
    36. Given estimates that vehicles with high and full driving 
automation would generate terabytes of data per vehicle per day, how 
should the need for data be appropriately balanced with the burden on 
manufacturers of providing and maintaining it and the ability of the 
agency to absorb and use it effectively?
    37. If supporting information (including analysis, methodology, 
data, and computer simulation results involving proprietary systems or 
specialized computer programs) were submitted by Nuro under a request 
for confidential treatment and relied upon by the agency in its 
determination whether to grant or deny a petition, how can the public 
be provided with an evaluation and a justification for the 
determination that are transparent, readily understandable and 
persuasive?
    38. Are there any mechanisms that may help further mitigate the 
underlying safety risks, if any, that might result from granting this 
petition? For example, what additional safety redundancies, if any, 
should NHTSA consider requiring as a condition to granting the 
exemption?
    39. In the absence of information demonstrating the safe real-world 
operation of the Nuro vehicle, would it be prudent for NHTSA to place 
terms on the exemption to protect public safety? If so, what terms 
would be appropriate? In addition, what terms, if any, should the 
agency consider placing on an exemption to facilitate agency efforts to 
monitor the operations of exempted vehicles, and maximize the learning 
opportunities presented by the on-road experience of the exempted 
vehicles during the exemption period and thereafter?

VII. Comment Period

    The agency seeks comment from the public on the merits of Nuro's 
petition for a temporary exemption from three requirements in FMVSS No. 
500, ``Low-speed vehicles.'' We are providing a 60-day comment period. 
After considering public comments and other available information, we 
will publish a notice of final action on the petition in the Federal 
Register.
    Please note that even after the comment closing date, we will 
continue to file relevant information in the docket as it becomes 
available. Further, some people may submit late comments. Accordingly, 
we recommend that you periodically check the Docket for new material. 
You can arrange with the docket to be notified when others file 
comments in the docket. See www.regulations.gov for more information. 
We will reopen or extend the comment period for this petition, as 
needed.


[[Page 10182]]


    Authority:  49 U.S.C. 30113 and 49 U.S.C. 30166; delegations of 
authority at 49 CFR 1.95 and 49 CFR 501.8.

    Issued in Washington, DC, under authority delegated in 49 CFR 
1.95 and 501.8.
Heidi Renate King,
Deputy Administrator.
[FR Doc. 2019-05121 Filed 3-18-19; 8:45 am]
BILLING CODE 4910-59-P