As 2021 comes to a close, we will be sharing the key legislative and regulatory updates for artificial intelligence (“AI”), the Internet of Things (“IoT”), connected and automated vehicles (“CAVs”), and privacy this month.  Lawmakers introduced a range of proposals to regulate AI, IoT, CAVs, and privacy as well as appropriate funds to study developments in these emerging spaces.  In addition, from developing a consumer labeling program for IoT devices to requiring the manufacturers and operators of CAVs to report crashes, federal agencies have promulgated new rules and issued guidance to promote consumer awareness and safety.  We are providing this year-end round up in four parts.  In this post, we detail CAV updates in Congress and federal agencies.

Part III:  Connected and Autonomous Vehicles

This year, Congress focused on the safe deployment of CAVs, including the safety of vulnerable road users.  For example, the Infrastructure Investment and Jobs Act (H.R. 3684), a key pillar of President Biden’s legislative agenda that became law last month, not only focuses on rebuilding U.S. roads, bridges, and rails, but also implicates automated vehicle technology by requiring the U.S. Department of Transportation to research the impacts of self-driving vehicles on urban and rural roads as well as on connected vehicle technology, with a focus on incorporating bicyclists and other vulnerable road users into the safe development of CAVs.  The Secretary of Transportation will convene and consult with a panel of national experts in rural and urban transportation, including (i) self-driving vehicle producers, manufacturers, and technology developers, (ii) States and State departments of transportation, (iii) metropolitan planning organizations, (iv) the motor carrier industry, (v) representatives of public transportation agencies or organizations, (vi) highway safety and academic groups, (vii) nonprofit entities with experience in transportation policy, and (viii) environmental stakeholders, among others.

In terms of legislative proposals, Senator Catherine Cortez Masto (D-NV) introduced the New, Emerging, and Exciting Technologies in Transportation (NEXT) Act (S. 3067), which would create an online, public-facing resource center to help state and local communities develop intelligent transportation programs.  The bill would also establish the “Strengthening Mobility and Revolutionizing Transportation Grant Program,” which would provide grants for projects focused on advancing smart city or community technologies to improve transportation efficiency and safety.  In addition, Senator Brian Schatz (D-HI) introduced the Vulnerable Road Users Safety Act (S.2496), which would direct the Administrator of the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration (“NHTSA”) and the Administrator of the Federal Highway Administration (“FHA”) to implement certain recommendations of the National Transportation Safety Board relating to, among other topics, connected vehicle technology and performance standards for automated pedestrian detection systems such as automatic braking sensors.

Regulators have also been active with respect to CAVs this year.  NHTSA issued a Standing General Order and Amended Standing General Order requiring the manufacturers and operators of CAVs to report crashes to the regulatory agency.  As further detailed in our August blog post, this order applies to vehicles equipped with SAE Level 2 advanced driver assistance systems (“ADAS”), which includes common safety features such as adaptive cruise control and lane-keeping assistance, and SAE Levels 3-5 automated driving systems (“ADS”) (i.e., conditional to full driving automation).  Incidents that meet certain criteria (e.g., crash on a publicly accessible road, results in a hospital treated injury, fatality, or vehicle tow-away, etc.) require submission of an incident report by the manufacturer and operator.

Finally, the Department of Interior (“DOI”) and Department of Transportation (“DOT”) signed a Memorandum of Understanding to integrate new technologies into park environments to enhance the visitor experience.  The memo set out a few projects, including establishing pilots for innovative mobility technologies to identify and resolve challenges related to operating advanced transportation technologies within national parks.  The findings from these projects aim to allow the safe integration of new technologies into the transportation system.

We will continue to update you on meaningful developments in these updates and across our blogs.  To learn more about our CAV team and work, please visit Covington’s Connected and Autonomous Vehicles website.  For more information on developments related to AI, IoT, and data privacy, please visit our AI Toolkit and our Internet of Things and Data Privacy and Cybersecurity websites.

Photo of Jennifer Johnson Jennifer Johnson

Jennifer Johnson is a partner specializing in communications, media and technology matters who serves as Co-Chair of Covington’s Technology Industry Group and its global and multi-disciplinary Artificial Intelligence (AI) and Internet of Things (IoT) Groups. She represents and advises technology companies, content distributors…

Jennifer Johnson is a partner specializing in communications, media and technology matters who serves as Co-Chair of Covington’s Technology Industry Group and its global and multi-disciplinary Artificial Intelligence (AI) and Internet of Things (IoT) Groups. She represents and advises technology companies, content distributors, television companies, trade associations, and other entities on a wide range of media and technology matters. Jennifer has almost three decades of experience advising clients in the communications, media and technology sectors, and has held leadership roles in these practices for almost twenty years. On technology issues, she collaborates with Covington’s global, multi-disciplinary team to assist companies navigating the complex statutory and regulatory constructs surrounding this evolving area, including product counseling and technology transactions related to connected and autonomous vehicles, internet connected devices, artificial intelligence, smart ecosystems, and other IoT products and services. Jennifer serves on the Board of Editors of The Journal of Robotics, Artificial Intelligence & Law.

Jennifer assists clients in developing and pursuing strategic business and policy objectives before the Federal Communications Commission (FCC) and Congress and through transactions and other business arrangements. She regularly advises clients on FCC regulatory matters and advocates frequently before the FCC. Jennifer has extensive experience negotiating content acquisition and distribution agreements for media and technology companies, including program distribution agreements, network affiliation and other program rights agreements, and agreements providing for the aggregation and distribution of content on over-the-top app-based platforms. She also assists investment clients in structuring, evaluating, and pursuing potential investments in media and technology companies.

Photo of Jayne Ponder Jayne Ponder

Jayne Ponder is an associate in the firm’s Washington, DC office and a member of the Data Privacy and Cybersecurity Practice Group. Jayne’s practice focuses on a broad range of privacy, data security, and technology issues. She provides ongoing privacy and data protection…

Jayne Ponder is an associate in the firm’s Washington, DC office and a member of the Data Privacy and Cybersecurity Practice Group. Jayne’s practice focuses on a broad range of privacy, data security, and technology issues. She provides ongoing privacy and data protection counsel to companies, including on topics related to privacy policies and data practices, the California Consumer Privacy Act, and cyber and data security incident response and preparedness.

Photo of Lindsay Brewer Lindsay Brewer

Lindsay advises clients on environmental, human rights, product safety, and public policy matters.

She counsels clients seeking to set sustainability goals; track their progress on environmental, social, and governance topics; and communicate their achievements to external stakeholders in a manner that mitigates legal…

Lindsay advises clients on environmental, human rights, product safety, and public policy matters.

She counsels clients seeking to set sustainability goals; track their progress on environmental, social, and governance topics; and communicate their achievements to external stakeholders in a manner that mitigates legal risk. She also advises clients seeking to engage with regulators and policymakers on environmental policy. Lindsay has extensive experience advising clients on making environmental disclosures and public marketing claims related to their products and services, including under the FTC’s Green Guides and state consumer protection laws.

Lindsay’s legal and regulatory advice spans a range of topics, including climate, air, water, human rights, environmental justice, and product safety and stewardship. She has experience with a wide range of environmental and safety regimes, including the Federal Trade Commission Act, the Clean Air Act, the Consumer Product Safety Act, the Federal Motor Vehicle Safety Standards, and the Occupational Safety and Health Act. Lindsay works with companies of various sizes and across multiple sectors, including technology, energy, financial services, and consumer products.

Photo of Nira Pandya Nira Pandya

Nira Pandya advises private and public companies on venture capital financings, mergers and acquisitions, joint ventures, strategic investments, and other corporate transactions. She also represents emerging companies in general corporate matters, including entity formation, corporate governance, and securities law compliance.

Photo of Andrew Longhi Andrew Longhi

Andrew Longhi is an associate in the firm’s Washington, DC office and a member of the Data Privacy and Cybersecurity and Technology and Communications Regulation Practice Groups.

Andrew advises clients on a broad range of privacy and cybersecurity issues, including compliance obligations, commercial…

Andrew Longhi is an associate in the firm’s Washington, DC office and a member of the Data Privacy and Cybersecurity and Technology and Communications Regulation Practice Groups.

Andrew advises clients on a broad range of privacy and cybersecurity issues, including compliance obligations, commercial transactions involving personal information and cybersecurity risk, and responses to regulatory inquiries.

Andrew is Admitted to the Bar under DC App. R. 46-A (Emergency Examination Waiver); Practice Supervised by DC Bar members.