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House panel offers $100 million to test autonomous trucks

Discussion of electronic logging devices (ELDs) has received all the attention related to the House Appropriation Committee's fiscal year 2018 Department of Transportation funding bill, but the panel also proposed to fund a major research and development program related to highly automated commercial vehicles (HACVs), more commonly known as autonomous trucks. As approved by the committee on July 17, the bill provides $100 million for an HACV R&D program managed by the Federal Motor Carrier Safety Administration. In a committee report accompanying the bill, the panel said that as automated safety features continue to advance, DOT must clearly understand new technologies and and related cybersecurity issues. "Understanding how technology advances are evolving and converging will ensure that businesses, consumers, regulators, and other stakeholders are best able to navigate and implement new vehicle capabilities," the committee said. The $100 million is dedicated to research and demonstrations of highly autonomous vehicle (HAV) technologies and advanced driver automation systems (ADAS). ADAS applications include forward collision warning, pedestrian/cyclist collision warning, headway monitoring warning, lane departure warning, intelligent high beam control, and speed limit indicator systems, the committee said. The committee directed that FMCSA work with the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration (NHTSA) on the R&D program.