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How GM Trains Backup Drivers for Its Autonomous Vehicles

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As GM continues to tweak its automated vehicle technology, it also continues comprehensive training for the backup drivers which ride along in these models. The automaker refers to these employees as Autonomous Vehicle Testers, and they’re responsible for ensuring that the brand’s autonomous vehicles function safely while out on test drives. Their job duties consist of engaging the self-driving system, recording observations about the vehicle’s behavior, taking control of the vehicle needed, and supplying feedback.

You might wonder exactly what training looks like for AVTs. It turns out that it’s as thorough as you might expect for a role that’s so closely tied with the safe performance of GM’s automated vehicles. It starts with one month of training sessions that start out in the classroom. The students then gradually transition to a stationary vehicle, followed by a private testing environment. During the last phase of training, AVTs get to learn in a public area.


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The steering-wheel-less technology that GM hopes to release in the next year or two.
Photo: General Motors

GM trains AVTs on both road rules as well as the car itself. It also informs them of what to do in the likelihood of minor incidents such as a flat tire or another vehicle grazing the car. In case the employee forgets a standard procedure during the test drive, they can refer to the training binder kept in the vehicle for such purposes.

Working in this role can be more tiring than you might think. Even though AVTs aren’t functioning in the role of primary driver for the automated vehicles, the job does demand a high level of attention, precision, and a fast response. GM helps prevent fatigue in AVTs by providing these employees with mandated breaks. It also limits the amount of time that these professionals┬ácan be on the road and selects only the test routes that it knows the drivers can complete within their allotted work shift.

As GM continues to inch closer to its goal of debuting a steering-wheel-less automated Bolt EV┬ásometime in the next year or two, it’s great to recognize the hard-working human AVTs behind this promising initiative.


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News Source: CNET