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WASHINGTON (CBSMiami) – Waymo, the self- driving car company owned by Google’s parent company, is getting ready to roll out a fleet of self- driving taxis.
Those cabs will not be entirely without human drivers, even if the driver is miles away.
California is one of at least five states that allow self-driving cars to be on the road without a safety driver if they have a system in place for a human to take over remotely.
Phantom Auto doesn’t build self-driving cars, but they’re hoping their technology can come to the rescue of a confused autonomous vehicle. It uses cell phone signals and cameras already mounted to the vehicle so a remote operator can take over in a situation where the car doesn’t know what to do.
“Say you come to a construction site and you have a construction worker giving hand signals,” said Phantom Auto’s Elliot Katz. “The vehicle may approach that construction site and just completely be paralyzed at that point. The vehicle itself would ping a Phantom Auto remote operator. The remote operator would be able to drive you through the construction site in the same way you could drive through a construction site today.”
Federal regulations are stalled in Congress leaving oversight largely to the states. Some are stricter than others. The self-driving Uber crash that killed a pedestrian in Arizona has prompted states to take a second look at their regulations as the technology is not foolproof
Phantom Auto sees its service working a bit like on-star, a remote help desk reachable automatically or with the touch of a button by passengers, where one person could be the backup driver for multiple vehicles, leaving the backup for the self- driving car firmly in the hands of a person.
Nissan is working a system where the autonomous vehicle would stop and wait for a remote user to draw it a map around an obstacle.