California Start-Up Seeks to Make Automated Driving Safer with Remote Navigation
Safety is one of the most important concerns as manufacturers continue to tweak automated vehicle technology. Case in point: the recent pedestrian fatality involving a self-driving Uber, in Tempe, Arizona.
One emerging California start-up, Phantom Auto, seeks to address the innate safety issues that automated vehicles have. The business provides a telepresence service to help remotely navigate self-driving vehicles, to help ensure that the passengers and pedestrians are as safe as possible. Because, as much as we’d all like to have the best of both worlds—not having to drive and staying as safe as possible on the roads—the pedestrian fatality scenario is causing many of us to rethink the plausibility of this ideal.
As Elliot Katz, co-founder and chief strategy officer of Phantom Auto, articulated, “We believe that AV technology has gotten to an incredible point. I’d say 98-99% there, but for that last 1 or 2% you do need a human in the loop. We are that human, albeit a human sitting a long distance away.”
The startup’s employees sit in vehicle cockpit simulators equipped with a steering wheel, brake and acceleration pedals. Multiple screens which sync to the automated vehicles’ technology enable the employees to view what the self-driving vehicle’s passengers are viewing on the road. Whenever an employee brakes, speeds up, or turns the steering wheel, the automated vehicle they’re remotely connected to responds in turn.
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Shai Magzimof, co-founder and CEO of Phantom Auto, expressed the importance of having human-based support that’s responsive and accessible, so passengers can enjoy the benefits of driverless technology while also staying safe. “In an autonomous vehicle you need that channel to be fast, someone to be there in real time. Real drivers with the right experience, the right training with us monitoring your ride as a consumer in an autonomous vehicle.”
We await more details about this innovative new startup that has the potential to bridge the gap between driverless technology and passenger/pedestrian protection.
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