Ray Martinez, head of the Federal Motor Carrier Safety Administration, says he’s not in the game of forecasting a timeline for when, or even if, autonomous trucks will make their way to U.S. roadways. But, he says, the technologies that underpin automated vehicles could help push highway crash numbers in a more positive direction. Martinez spoke with Overdrive in an exclusive interview via phone on Tuesday.
“The integration of new technologies…is an important piece” of mitigating crashes, he says. “There are a lot of great technologies out there that are being implemented in trucks and in passenger cars. Everybody gets scared of automated vehicles, but, look, I don’t know if there’s ever going to be an automated commercial vehicle on the road in practical applications, but that technology is being worked on in the U.S. and around the world. We can’t be blind to this. That technology is coming,” he said. “I believe it’s going to have a great impact on safety.”
The DOT later this year plans to unveil its most detailed roadmap to date, dubbed the AV 3.0 report, in addressing automated vehicle development and deployment, Martinez said. “We have worked with all the other modes to clarify what the federal government’s posture should be,” he said. “We want to make sure we don’t inhibit technology, research and testing. We want to make sure that that’s done safely, but we certainly don’t want to inhibit that.”
Martinez billed the coming report as a “definitive roadmap” for how the DOT will move forward in the coming years with the implementation of automated systems, including systems like automated braking, vehicle-to-vehicle communication and more. “[The] technology that is specifically about crash prevention — I’m really excited about. [That’s] really the future I think here, is preventing the crashes,” he said. “We want to make sure vehicles don’t crash into each other and thereby avoid injuries and fatalities. That’s the future.”