My biggest complaint with level 2 semi-automatic driving systems is that paradoxically, the better they get, the more of the driving task they do and the less attention the person behind the wheel pays to what is actually happening. This is a big deal as Level 2 systems rely on a human for their backup without warning in the event the system fails. This is a known problem and this fundamental problem is at the root of everything the persons we have seen Sleep and otherwise not to be careful when driving Teslas. The problem isn’t unique to Tesla, of course, and this example of a Lincoln modified by WeRide should show that pretty well.
Here is the video taken by a nearby driver:
Hm. The security driver really should Wake up.
WeRide is one of the largest autonomous vehicle companies in China and has deployed a fleet of 10 Lincoln MKZ sedans equipped with cameras, lidar and computers last summer in america.
WeRide is in the process of developing what they hope will be a Tier 4 vehicle; This means that the vehicle can drive within a certain geo-fenced area without human intervention.
Of course, WeRide isn’t done developing the system yet, so safety drivers are required. In this development phase, the system is really better to be thought of as a level 2 system, as the system can disengage without warning and has to take over the safety driver at short notice.
Therefore, it is not a good idea for a safety driver to sleep at the wheel.
WeRide’s own voluntary self-assessment document describes the use of security drivers, but only in connection with “new software that is being tested”:
There are at least two operators in the vehicle while the new software is being tested. An operator sits behind the steering wheel and is responsible for taking control of the autonomous system if necessary. The driver can take over by turning the steering wheel manually, pressing the brakes or the accelerator pedal. There is also a redundant method of taking control of the vehicle by pressing the “kill” button. This “kill” switch immediately interrupts communication between the software and the drive-by-wire system so that the driver is in control immediately. Safety drivers are instructed to use this takeover method only as a last resort after the other three methods fail. The other operator acts as a second pair of eyes on the road to support the driver. They also record valuable feedback that assesses the vehicle’s performance.
In this case, WeRide specifies two Security operators. I suspect because only one person was visible in this car that the software may no longer be considered “new”, or the other safety driver sleeps so that he just lies in the back seat and saws tree trunks. I can not say it.
WeRide claims to have the largest autonomous fleet in China and currently operates a claimed Level 4 robotax service in Guangzhou, China.
This video seems to show at least a few instances of the robotic taxi running without a safety driver, although their safety report states that the cars are remotely monitored and remote operators can help a car in need:
Our system also has a remote control function. The vehicle status is reported to the operations center in real time via a secure and redundant connection. The remote operator can also trigger remote notifications, and the passenger can use this remote control system to call for help and communicate with law enforcement agencies.
No matter what happens in China, here in America the test vehicles from WeRide to do I need safety drivers and I’ll get on my nerves and say I bet one of the criteria of being a safety driver is not to sleep.
I’m not sure what type of driver monitoring system WeRide is using in their test Lincoln, but I’ve reached out to the company for more information and will update with everything I learn.
So, yes, level 2 system driver inattention isn’t just a Tesla problem!