Learning to drive has always been a right of passage for most young adults across the world. But with the rise of autonomous vehicle technology, what will future tests look like? How exactly will people learn how to drive, and what will they need to know?
Think back. You got into the car and shook the hand of the instructor. You adjusted your seat, strapped on your seatbelt and checked your mirrors. You conducted the vision test. And then on the instructor’s cue, you composed yourself, turned the key in the ignition and proceeded to demonstrate your (hopefully) well-trained capabilities on the open road. At the end of it all, you came to a complete stop and held your breath. Hopefully you heard a “Congratulations, you’ve passed”. But if you didn’t, you certainly weren’t alone (some estimates rank it as high as 50%). Whether you passed first or fifth time around, your focus, not to mention your nerve, had to be absolute.
In the autonomous future, learning to drive is likely to be a little different. And by a little, perhaps a lot. You’ll get into the car and put on your seatbelt, no doubt, but what about the rest? First and foremost, will human instructors even conduct the test? Chances are they’ll be long gone, replaced by a sophisticated “Ai-instructor” whose hand you will most definitely not be able to shake and whose every command you must obey. Will there be a steering wheel? After all, automonous vechiles, by their nature, drive themselves. As for checking your mirrors, well… what’s the point? Perhaps more poignantly, will you even need your eyesight to navigate the open roads? It seems likely that the autonomous driving test of the future will center on your cognitive ability to react to and follow the orders of your dedicated, omnipresent Ai-instructor. In that regard, it’s the written exam that’ll center stage.
In today’s world, the written exam centers on rules of the road and learning how to identify simple signs. Many of these are one-word or short-phrase answers and don’t necessarily require a vast technical knowledge or expertise. Tomorrow’s world promises to be much different. Written tests will likely focus much less on establishing the knowledge needed to navigate the open road and more on the technicalities of operating your car’s onboard system and gaining an understanding of how it processes information. What happens, for example, in the unfortunate (if unlikely) event of an in-car system metaphorical meltdown? When it comes to getting back on the road, today’s drivers are quizzed on how to change a flat tire. Those of the future will be more concerned with how to reboot their vehicle’s system.
HERE’s part in enabling this future
Whatever the format of future road tests, one thing’s for sure: people’s need to trust the technology that powers in-car automated systems is fundamental. At HERE, we’re committed to building smarter solutions for intelligent cars, leveraging artificial intelligence to produce the mapping solutions needed for autonomous driving. HERE Highly Automated Driving (HAD) is our way of making autonomous driving not just a reality, but also a safer and more human-friendly experience. With more information about the road and what lies ahead, HAD systems can make smarter engagement and disengagement decisions. Our self-healing maps technology, leveraging crowd-sourced sensor data to continuously verify and update changes in near real-time, also ensures that HERE maps remain consistently updated so vehicles can adapt to their circumstances.
Rest assured, powered by HERE, the future of autonomous driving is bright. Maybe just spare a thought for the driving instructors…