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Peters Highlights Michigan Innovation & Leadership on Self-Driving Vehicles at Senate Hearing

Peters Introduces American Center for Mobility’s John Maddox to Share Expertise at Senate Commerce Committee Hearing

WASHINGTON, D.C. – U.S. Senator Gary Peters, a member of the Senate Commerce Committee and co-founder of the bipartisan Smart Transportation Caucus, today introduced John Maddox, President and CEO of the American Center for Mobility (ACM) in Ypsilanti, Michigan, at a Commerce Committee hearing on self-driving vehicle technology. Earlier this year, Peters announced a joint, bipartisan effort with Commerce Committee Chairman John Thune to craft legislation to advance the development and deployment of lifesaving advanced vehicle technologies. ACM will play a critical role in testing and validating connected and self-driving vehicle technology, and was designated by the U.S. Department of Transportation as an Automated Vehicle Proving Ground in January.

“As the heart of the American auto industry, Michigan’s automakers, suppliers and engineers will solidify our nation’s position as the global leader in transportation innovation,” said Senator Peters. “I was honored to have John share his expertise with the Senate Commerce Committee and describe the critical role the American Center for Mobility is playing to promote continued innovation and ensure the safe and rapid testing and deployment of this transformative technology that will save thousands of lives.”

“It’s an honor to have been invited to speak before the Committee and to stress the importance of the work we are doing at the American Center for Mobility to improve safety and reduce accidents by testing, validating and providing the platform to begin the collaborative effort to accelerate the development of voluntary standards,” Maddox said.

Watch Peters’ Opening Remarks

Watch Maddox’s Opening Remarks

Peters remarks as prepared for delivery:

“Thank you Chairman Thune and Ranking Member Nelson for calling this hearing on emerging self-driving vehicle technology that will improve safety on our roads, offer greater mobility to consumers, and transform our economy. Mr. Chairman – I look forward to introducing soon our bipartisan legislation that will promote continued innovation, ensure safe self-driving vehicles are on the road and reduce regulatory conflicts to the safe and rapid testing and deployment of this transformative technology.

“My home state of Michigan is leading the way in transportation innovation. We’re home to a concentration of advanced automotive industry manufacturers and suppliers, engineering talent and research and development facilities that are solidifying our nation’s position as the global leader in transportation innovation.

“I’m honored to welcome to the Committee Mr. John Maddox, the President and CEO of the American Center for Mobility in Ypsilanti, Michigan. This facility is a US Department of Transportation designated Automated Vehicle Proving Ground, and one that will play a central role in testing and validating the technologies powering connected and self-driving vehicles.

“John brings a suite of unique experiences to his leadership at the American Center for Mobility. John started his career in automotive safety engineering in NHTSA’s Office of Defect Investigation and later served as Associate Administrator for Vehicle Safety Research from 2008 to 2012. Originally from Baltimore, John has strong ties to Michigan, living there with his wife, Magda, and son, Ben, and working at Ford Motor Company, Volkswagen Group, and University of Michigan’s Mobility Transformation Center.

“John, we are lucky to have you testify today because the expertise developed at the American Center for Mobility will save thousands of lives every year, and fundamentally change how we get from place to place in the future. Thank you for sharing your expertise with the Committee – I look forward to your testimony and that of your fellow panelists.”

Maddox remarks as prepared for delivery:

“Good morning. Thank you, Chairman Thune, Ranking Member Nelson for calling this hearing, and all the members of this Committee for your interest in automated vehicles. Thank you, Senator Peters for your leadership on this issue, and offering me the chance to speak with you all today. I am John Maddox, President and CEO of the American Center for Mobility (ACM). I am honored to speak with you on behalf of ACM about the future of automated vehicle and transportation technology, and key steps for creating a much safer and more efficient transportation system.

“The American Center for Mobility is a non-profit public/private partnership. We are building a world-leading facility for innovation, testing and product development, to act as a national proving ground for future mobility. First and foremost, we are focused on public safety, including testing and validation of connected and automated vehicle and infrastructure mobility technology. In addition to testing, our mission is to accelerate the development of standards, and to provide educational opportunities for the workforce for the future, STEM K-12 programs, and the public in general.

“Our past transportation system has served us well, but is showing signs of strain. Every year we endure a national tragedy of tens of thousands of Americans losing their lives on our roads. That is the numerical equivalent of over ten September 11 Attacks, or seven Iraq Wars, every year. In many cities, we see ever-increasing congestion, with accompanying loss of productive time, wasted energy, and unnecessary greenhouse gas emissions. Largely we have accepted these undesirable outcomes as the status quo.

“It is clear we need a significant change in our transportation system and Safety must be everyone’s first focus.

“NHTSA’s census of fatal car crashes shows that 35,092 people lost their lives in 2015. Historically, human error or actions account for 94% of these fatal crashes. By reducing the effects of human error, connected and automated vehicles have the promising potential to reduce or even eliminate these fatal outcomes by avoiding the crash scenario altogether.

“Transportation is also the lifeblood of our economy and society. The ability to efficiently move people and goods is critical to the social and economic well-being of the United States, and will help us remain competitive with other international economies.

“Because of this promising safety potential and economic benefit, the U.S. should focus on developing and deploying CAV technology in a responsibly expedient manner

“AV technology is being developed very rapidly, largely led by industry, but aided by key frameworks, research, and support from Government and Academia.  Other countries, including China and The E.U. are currently working on HAV programs. ($130M euro up to 2014) (H2020 $450M/yr) (China iVista $116M)

“Voluntary standards have proven to be a key early step in the development of almost every safety technology. These voluntary standards often form the basis for the federal FMVSS.

“It is critical to accelerate voluntary standards in order to ensure safe deployment of HAVs.

“SAE has begun to promulgate basic standards, but many additional voluntary standards are needed immediately, including scenario catalogs, test procedures, mapping, consumer labelling, cybersecurity, and data sharing to name a few.

“The complexity of AV technology will require innovative thinking for testing, simulation, validation, and certification tools and methodologies to support these standards, and these vehicles.

“Voluntary standards must also be accelerated for purposes of avoiding a patchwork, as even a small number of differing or conflicting regulations would significantly inhibit the development of AV technology. Consumers’ interests would not be served if they could not operate their vehicle, or a shared vehicle, across state lines. Differing standards would put the U.S. in a compromised position compared to other countries and regions around the world.

“It may also be prudent to consider the adoption of a Federal FMVSS framework standard that establishes key foundational requirements, such as definitions, manufacturer identification and reporting processes. However it is too early to promulgate detailed vehicle performance or equipment standards, as the needed technical requirements are not sufficiently developed, and currently there is no agreement within the technical and stakeholder community on the nature or specifics of such requirements.

“USDOT’s Automated Vehicle Proving Ground (AVPG) program is important to safe development of HAVs.

“The AVPG, with 10 designated sites across the U.S., provides key infrastructure and framework for the development of AV products, tools, standards, and data-sharing in a rapid and collaborative fashion. These proving grounds can form the backbone of the federal government’s framework for supporting HAVs.

This program will be a critical asset to ensure the focus on safety in HAV deployment, as well as ensuring that the US remains competitive, while maintaining consumer privacy and system cybersecurity.

“The need for HAV data collection will continue after initial deployment, and Exemptions are important to allow that data generation

“According to USDOT, a number of existing FMVSS contain requirements that conflict with, or do not allow, basic HAV design.

“In order to enable early product deployment and regulatory data gathering, and to enable HAVs in general, it is important that Congress and USDOT review the current authority, and implement a solution for exempting compliance of a sufficiently substantial number of vehicles.

“It remains imperative for HAVs that the petitioner demonstrate that the exempted vehicle provides an equivalent or better level of safety, through sufficient data and analysis. And NHTSA must have the final judgment that that requirement is met.

“In closing, I offer the following 3 recommendations:

“One, USDOT should be authorized and funded to create collaborative voluntary industry standards to support safe development and future FMVSS,

“Two, the AVPG program should be funded as important infrastructure for HAVs,

“And three, Congress should consider revising NHTSA’s exemption authority, and ensuring appropriate FTE headcount to implement these programs.

“I appreciate this opportunity very much. Thank you for your attention, and I look forward to your questions.”