Transportation Technology Campaign Newsletter
May 19, 2022
If you see or hear about new technologies or services, please send us an email, TransportationTech@twu.org
Human Operators in Public Transit ‘Highly Likely’ Even as Autonomous Vehicle Tech Advances, Carnegie Mellon University Experts Reveal in New Paper
This paper is a critical contribution to the evolving debate over the safety and reliability of autonomous vehicles especially in public transit.Leading voices in the national conversation over deployment of autonomous vehicle technology and researchers at Carnegie Mellon University’s renowned Human-Computer Interaction Institute have declared, “Due to both technical and operational challenges, transit vehicles including buses and vans will be highly likely to continue to require skilled human operators, even as autonomous vehicle capabilities are incorporated.”
“These policy leaders and expert researchers at CMU have concluded what we have known for a long time: Robotic buses, no matter the level of automation achieved, cannot replace skilled operators who are there to keep our passengers safe during the challenging and unpredictable operating environment in public transit,” said TWU President John Samuelsen. “A driverless bus can’t intervene with an unruly passenger or go off-route during a security or weather emergency.”
“Even with safety enhancing technologies in place, there remains a need for operators on-board to scan for latent hazards, or threats to safety that aren’t immediately visible to the system or the driver …,” the CMU experts write. “Toward this end, we highlight the need to avoid over-reliance on automated systems, and instead recognize the importance of transit labor in ensuring the safety of those on- and off-board.”
VIDEO: Autonomous Tesla Car Crashes into Aircraft
When Telsa vehicles aren’t being recalled, they apparently keep crashing. This time a Tesla car in so-called “smart summon” mode rammed into an airplane in Spokane, Washington. What’s smart summon? It’s an automation feature that allows drivers to hail their car using their smartphone within a distance of 200 feet.
Bad Idea: Watch TV Behind the Wheel of a Self-Driving Car
The bad ideas keep piling up as autonomous vehicle (AV) developers push their technology. This time it appears United Kingdom regulators are poised to waive current rules and permit people in AVs to watch TV but still “be ready to take back control of the vehicle if required.” So now we’re simultaneously binging on Netflix and staying ready to react to traffic hazards? This is why TWU’s technology campaign is focused on making sure the AV industry doesn’t fool American regulators into adopting dangerous policies that dump poorly regulated, unsafe technology onto our roads or in our transit systems.
First Full-Sized Autonomous Bus in UK Hits the Road in Scotland
The autonomous vehicle bus market is getting a boost in Scotland as the first full-sized bus is close to beginning tests with passengers on-board. The UK government-funded pilot will have an employee on-board and 20 specially trained “Autonomous Bus Professionals” will be deployed to monitor the system alongside a bus “Captain” who will move around the bus and interact with passengers. Here’s the kicker: the test runs will demonstrate “what a future service might feel like when the staff member is able to leave the cab while the computer does the driving.” TWU is opposed to converting safety-trained drivers with “captains” or “monitors” as they are often referred to. As TWU International President John Samuelsen explains, no level of automation in public transit vehicles eliminates the need for a skilled operator in control any more than auto pilot features eliminate the need for two pilots in the cockpit.
WHAT WE’RE READING
Uber Driverless Food Deliveries Business Insider
ALPA Battling Single Pilot Cockpits ALPA Advocacy
Race Car Breaks Driverless Speed Record at 192 MPH The Drive
Telsa Recalls 48,000 U.S. vehicles over speed display CNBC