Designated Driver develops first-of-its-kind remote control for self-driving shuttles
Autonomous Vehicle Technology announces 2020 ACES Award Winner in Autonomy | Teleoperation category
Designated Driver has added a layer of safety to Texas A&M University autonomous shuttles in the first commercial deployment on public roads for its teleoperation system, remotely providing guidance to shuttles operating in Bryan, TX. The shuttles are controlled and monitored by a dedicated teleoperations center at Texas A&M. In the first phase of the deployment, the remote assistance is integrated into the autonomy system to authorize the shuttle to proceed at four-way intersections and stops. This is due to the fact that, over the first six months of autonomous shuttle operation, four-way intersections and stops were the most common scenarios where a safety driver had to intervene. To ease operation, Designated Driver’s technology provides both remote driving and remote assistance. With remote driving, the teleoperator fully takes charge of the car, using the cameras and sensors in the vehicle to maneuver it. However, in most real-world scenarios, the autonomy system is fully functional but simply unable to determine the safest path forward. In these situations—such as at the intersections and stops—Designated Driver provides remote assistance. While Designated Driver technology will eventually replace the safety driver, the shuttles will continue to include a safety navigator, who will provide support and educate the passengers on the technology. Over time, additional functionality will be added, including the ability to provide the shuttle’s autonomy system with alternative routes when needed, enabling it to safely navigate around unanticipated obstacles. The teleoperation model, like with Designated Driver, lowers the barrier to entry for any company to provide safe autonomous solutions. It is an important and vital step for the “middle years” when automated shuttles will require testing but also human guardianship.
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