Embark Placing Focus on Human Attentiveness in Autonomous Vehicle Testing


July 17, 2018

July 16, 2018 (freightwaves.com) An online article from freightwaves.com discusses the emphasis Embark is placing on human attentiveness in testing self-driving vehicles.*

Autonomous vehicle companies insist their technology is the solution to America’s large number of traffic crashes every year, but development of that technology requires risks. These companies have received public backlash recently because of high-profile accidents, like the death of a pedestrian who was hit by a self-driving Uber vehicle in Arizona. In order to keep the public on board with their autonomous technology development, companies need to find ways to more safely test their vehicles.  

Embark, partnering with Ryder and Electrolux, believes the answer is placing more focus on human safety drivers and the attentiveness of these drivers. Embark is the first company to make a cross-country trip with an autonomous truck and says it understands the potential dangers of accidents involving its vehicles. At this point, while its vehicles are still working out flaws and glitches, Embark is working to ensure its human drivers are always prepared for and capable of avoiding crashes.  

Embark CEO Alex Rodrigues says the company only hires specially licensed and trained drivers, not “random, low-pay employees.” He said Embark’s drivers average more than one million miles of professional driving experience and are still subjected to intensive training and testing before being placed in one of the company’s self-driving vehicles. The drivers have in-classroom instruction, track testing, on-board training, and a DMV-style examination.  

Inside the vehicles, driver attentiveness is monitored using hands-on-wheel detection and eye-gaze detection. If drivers seem distracted, they will receive audio and visual warnings. In addition, drivers are not allowed to have phones while the vehicles are in motion, they cannot drive for too many hours at a time, and they must submit to random drug testing. By ensuring the safety of its drivers, Embark believes it can ensure the safety of its vehicle testing. 

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Sources: Cited in the article

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