Remote Control for Autonomous Vehicles — A far worse idea than the use of Public Shadow “Safety” Driving

Michael DeKort
Feb 8, 2019 · 5 min read

Today I see that the UK is allowing for there to be no drivers in their autonomous vehicles under development. Meaning that when they disengage a remote operator will handle it. (This is also happening in the US.) I have written a lot about how public shadow driving can never produce anything close to a legitimate a driverless vehicle. That the deaths it has caused and the thousands more it will cause are totally needless. And that there is a way to do this that mitigates 99% of this. (Please see my articles below for more.) Unfortunately, the UK has been duped into thinking remote operations are as safe as public shadow driving and even a better option. Overall it is actually a far more reckless idea than using public shadow driving. Overall it is actually a far more reckless idea than using public shadow driving. I say overall because there can be extremely limited cases where it can be safe or the best of several very bad options. Those very limited cases are when there is actual level 4 attained and some level of safety above a human driver is proven. Those limited scenarios would be where the speed is very slow and no other objects could exist. Like a dedicated pathway. But that is not where we are. What is happening here is development. (BTW L3 is development too. Only the AV makers don’t want you to get that. In L3 the public driver is harmed. In a development AV the company driver is harmed. Tesla and comm.ai blur that line even more.) Below are some of the issues with remote operation off driverless vehicles.

Issues with Remote Control of Autonomous Vehicles

· More situational awareness issues than public shadow driving — It has been proven by NASA, a plethora of studies and common sense, that there is a time period that no matter what monitoring and alarm system is being used, what training is given, the skill of the driver etc, time to regain proper situational awareness to do the right thing the right way cannot be provided. Studies show this to be between 3–45 seconds. (The latter times account for layered scenarios.) Most accident scenarios fall in to this range. As it is shadow drivers struggle to pay attention when they know they are not steering. Hands close to the wheel or not. Ford. Waymo and others have people fall asleep. Now imagine trying to pay attention when you are not in the vehicle. One is being in the real-world the other too much like a game.

· Sensor deprivation — Do these systems have 360 degree visual and sound coverage? I bet not. (Smell could also be a big deal.) This will deprive the remote driver of information they need.

· No Full-motion Simulator- I have yet to see anyone making an AV or providing remote control use a full motion simulator. Without it motion cues are missing. These can be critical to driving. Without the pressure on the inner ear or body you cannot detect loss of traction properly, feel bumps, things you hit or hit you, feel up or downhill grades properly etc. Drivers will not drive properly without this.

· Latency — 5G or not. Cellular or wired. It takes time for data to get from one end to the other. Through all of that equipment, cabling and even satellites. Let’s assume a full-motion simulator is being used. The maximum amount of latency that should be allowed between steering wheel movement and visual changes is 16ms. This is round trip. And it is with a 99.9% data integrity rate. If any critical packets have to be retransmitted it gets far worse. Now ping your local router. Odds are its not much faster. Now add the internet or even local network equipment. It cannot be done unless you had a point to point system. The added delay will cause the driver to react late to what they see. That delay loop will get worse over time. For lateral moves even at slow speeds you will soon have a catastrophe.

· System Outages — Starsky Robotics had a truck come to a stop on a highway because their building power went out. Think about all of the systems involved from the driver’s hands through the networks to the AV. Is there total redundancy? I doubt it? Separate power? Hot spares for every single system in house and through the network.

· Hacking or Terrorists — What kind of security do you think these companies have? Physical and otherwise? They can be hacked by a person taking over at the facility, hacking the facility or the vehicle directly from the outside. Are ALL their employees properly screened? If their cybersecurity is like most of the rest of the world it is wretched. That is usually caused by very poor privileged account management and identity access management. Now what about a terrorist using the vehicle as a weapon?

Again, ALL of this is mitigated with proper simulation and engineering. The aerospace/DoD/FAA kind. Not the IT and gaming kind. I implore the government officials ignore the echo chamber, the hype, the odds this many folks are so wrong, do the due diligence and the right thing for your citizens.

Update 10–15–2019

Apparently Zoox and Lance Eliot have an issue with remote ops. Nice to know there’s a line somewhere for the unethical.

More detail here

Proposal for Successfully Creating an Autonomous Ground or Air Vehicle

SAE Autonomous Vehicle Engineering Magazine — End Public Shadow Driving

Relevant Biography

Former system engineer, engineering and program manager for Lockheed Martin. Including aircraft simulation, the software engineering manager for all of NORAD and the Aegis Weapon System.

Key Autonomous Vehicle Industry Participation

- Lead — SAE On-Road Autonomous Driving (ORAD) Simulation Task Force

- Member SAE ORAD Verification and Validation Task Force

- SME — DIN/SAE International Alliance for Mobility Testing & Standardization group to create sensor simulation specs

- Stakeholder for UL4600 — Creating AV Safety Guidelines

- Member of the IEEE Artificial Intelligence & Autonomous Systems Policy Committee

- Presented the IEEE Barus Ethics Award for Post 9/11 DoD/DHS Efforts

My company is Dactle — We are building an aerospace/DoD/FAA level D, full L4/5 simulation-based development and testing system with an end-state scenario matrix to address all of these issues. We can supply all of the scenarios, the scenario matrix tool, the data, the integrated simulation or any part of this system. A true all model type digital twin. If someone would like to see a demo or discuss this further please let me know.

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