Testing and trial runs of autonomous cars are going on briskly so that they can hit the roads soon, commute from one place to another and ridesharing companies can use them to ferry passengers to their destination. Autonomous cars would alter the long-established relationship between the driver and the car, as the vehicle steers, stops, accelerates, turns, identifies hurdles on its own and avoids collisions. This would be reinventing the car industry and its implications for the future would be colossal.
But would autonomous cars make all forms of human intervention a thing of the past completely and at any stage there would be no need of human direction? What would happen in rarer scenarios where the car may need an external control for better navigation?
In order to preempt risks, scientists and engineers are developing a system that will address scenarios that can’t be easily predicted. This smart system would rely on human control and coordination. It would be called Human-in-the-loop in the autonomous car segment. And as the name implies, the car would function automatically but there would be a human control somewhere that would be akin to keeping a person in the loop.
This wouldn’t mean that AI would be circumvented by human intelligence, but rather AI enabled cars complimented by human intelligence.
This may seem odd but it is not when we consider the ground stations of UAVs. UAVs take off, fly, gather details and land on their own. But for emergency cases, there are ground control stations. The same approach would be followed in the case of autonomous cars.
Just like there is an emergency helpline number or a OnStar button in cars, self-driving vehicles would also have a similar system for help. Although this emergency helpline would not be in a conventional contact center, nor would it consist of repairmen.
Remotely controlled system
When this approach would be adopted by the autonomous car industry in the future, the human emergency controller would be seated in a driving simulator. The place where he will be there will be surrounded by computer screens, just like any other control room. And the driving simulator will have a steering wheel. When vehicles would call for help, the sensors will channel the information to the person sitting in the center. From the simulator, the person would be able to have a look at where the car is and observe its path. After taking access, the person would remotely control the car and navigate it. Once the task is done, the car will again switch to normal mode.
It may sound like a fantasy. But research on it is already underway as companies have recognized its need in the future. Ford and Nissan are investing in the development of a remote-control center for their autonomous cars that would. Also, other independent companies such as the California-based Phantom Auto are looking at the opportunities that will be created and are aiming to deliver a good customer experience to autonomous car companies.
With the increase in autonomous cars, many jobs will be phased out as there would be almost negligible requirement of trained drivers or mechanics. But new jobs are expected to be created in car control room when autonomous cars become mainstream and there is a rising demand for skilled professional controllers.