A “safety driver” at autonomous car company Drive.ai describes riding behind the wheel of our passenger shuttles in Frisco, Texas.
The AI was very cautious, maybe too cautious. In fact, the most common reason to take over was when other human drivers became impatient—for example, while they waited for the self-driving vehicle to slowly cross multiple lanes of traffic at rush hour. In these instances, we will disengage autonomy and go into human mode as a courtesy to the other drivers on the road.
People climb into the shuttle with all kinds of wild expectations, but after their first ride—or sometimes even halfway through—they realize it’s really just another bus ride. Then they usually go back to their activities. In most cases, that means they get buried in their cellphones.