What is it like working as a safety guide in a self-driving car

Joe VanOflen, The functions drive.ai

We spend so much of our lives, but with cars with self-driving, we could fill the time indefinitely. You can complete the tasks, put a movie or – if the windows of the car are digital screens – enjoy a virtual tour of the French countryside.

But before we deliver the keys, we have to try the technology. In June 2018, I started out as a "safety guide" to Drive.ai's stand-alone car company, which led behind the bus of our passengers in Frisco, Texas. After driving the vehicle into the field, I will push a button to take care of the autonomy. If I had to take over, I did not want to waste a second to get to the controls, so I would hold a hand on the steering wheel and fly a foot over the pedals, mimicking the manual drive. They were moving the same way as I used them – the passengers would be looking for the first time to see if I saw anything.

Riders have also been surprised at how careful AI is. In fact, the most common reason I had to deal with was when other people's drivers became impatient – for example, while they waited for the self-directed vehicle to cross many traffic routes at peak time. In such cases, we will unleash our autonomy and go humanely as a courtesy to the other drivers on the road.

People get on the bus with all kinds of wild expectations, but after their first trip – or sometimes even halfway – they realize it's just another bus ride. Then they usually return to their activities. In most cases, this means that they will be buried on their cell phones.

As he told Rob Verger

This article was originally published in the issue of Spring 2019 Transportation of Popular science.