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Truly Autonomous Cars May Be Impossible Without Helpful Human Touch

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An remote operator controls the movements of a Fetch driverless car during driverless car trials in Milton Keynes, U.K.

Credit: Andrew Boyers/Reuters

Although autonomous vehicle (AV) startups have promised to develop truly driverless cars, industry executives and experts say remote human supervisors may need to become permanent.

Self-driving software systems cannot predict and evaluate risk with human-like speed, especially when dealing with unexpected incidents or "edge cases."

Remote human supervisors could monitor video feeds from multiple AVs, ready to intervene and get stalled robot drivers moving again.

Many startups employ remote supervisors to help AVs handle edge cases, and Koosha Kaveh at driverless car rental service Imperium Drive envisions the supervisors becoming "air traffic controllers" for fleets of AVs.

Plunging capital for AVs also is pushing developers to address edge cases and slash costs, while consultant Chris Borroni-Bird is worried "that AV companies will rush to market without proving the safety is better than human-driven vehicles."

From Reuters
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