Phantom Auto is a service provider that provides teleoperation solutions for autonomous cars. This type of technology prevents issues that cause a self-driving car to freeze up or get stuck. The idea behind this service is that a remote human operator can take over when the artificial intelligence system is unable to make a decision about what to do next. Phantom Auto delivers real-time operational assistance and communications.
Background and Experience of Phantom Auto’s Founders
Phantom Auto’s staff has experience in app design, artificial intelligence, and gaming. Shai Magzimof, the company’s CEO, has founded multiple successful tech companies. The firm’s co-founder is Elliot Katz, who has served as a legal advisor for governmental agencies, automakers, and technology companies.
Andrew Gryaznov, another co-founder, has experience in vehicle telemetry and time-critical network communications. Ohad Dvir, a fourth co-founder, has a background in the areas of vehicle systems engineering and robotics. All of this experience with navigating the regulation, programming, and engineering of self-driving car technology gives Phantom Auto a solid base for the development, testing, and implementation of time-critical teleoperation solutions.
Phantom Auto’s Remote-Controlled Driver Technology
The remote-controlled technology made by Phantom Auto is designed to bridge the technological gap of vehicle autonomy from 98 percent to 100 percent. The company’s real-time, remote-controlled human intervention solves that missing 2 percent of the puzzle for taking ride-sharing trips in an autonomous car. In many cases, that 2 percent is a difficult situation.
It could be a scenario that the artificial intelligence system has never encountered before and does not know how to make a decision about. Having an experienced human driver take over the decision-making on a temporary basis could get the vehicle over the hump of indecision, allowing it to get back on track once it has information that it knows how to analyze.
What the Remote-Operated Technology Does
During a test ride, the operator will sit at a station with five monitors that show the road conditions around the autonomous car. The Phantom Auto remote operator will also have a steering wheel, gas pedal, and brake pedal setup. Inside of the test vehicle, there is another monitor so that the passengers can see and hear the remote operator. This integrated communications system allows the remote operator to get more real-time information, which could be important to the decision-making process and the safety of the vehicle’s occupants.
The test car that Phantom Auto has used for its remote driver system is a Lincoln MKX. This car has electronically controlled brakes, steering, and transmission—all characteristics that facilitate the remote takeover process. The remote driver could potentially steer the autonomous car, slow it down, and accelerate it. As of April 2018, Phantom Auto’s technology is brand neutral, which means it’s designed to work with any make or model of self-driving car.
Testing of the Technology
Phantom Auto’s technology features low latency, or a delay, in data transmission. This is a key aspect of what allows a person to take over control from the artificial intelligence that operates the autopilot. According to Shai Magzimof, the technology allows for the bonding of information from different wireless networks. For example, it can combine the information from AT&T, Sprint, and Verizon’s systems.
This allows for improved connection times and speeds, which is key to getting the information from a self-driving car’s artificial intelligence system. Tests in Silicon Valley and Las Vegas have allowed Phantom Auto to improve its level of latency. In turn, this has created a smoother transition from the artificial intelligence to the remote human driver. Phantom Auto’s service is intended to be used for low-speed situations, primarily for the convenience of a self-driving car’s passengers.
Areas of Expertise
The last 2 percent of getting from here to there in an autonomous car often involves tricky situations on the road. Therefore, Phantom Auto has developed four areas of expertise for its remote human controllers of the self-driving cars. These areas of expertise include road construction, instructions from public safety officials, severe weather, and passenger support. For example, a self-driving car that has to navigate through an area where a police officer is directing traffic could have a tricky time understanding hand signals. The human takeover would allow for safe navigation in that situation.
Goals for the Future
Phantom Auto’s technology might also be useful for commercial autonomous vehicle needs, such as navigating a delivery truck for the last mile of its route. This could include backing up a truck into a loading or unloading bay. In these cases, the artificial intelligence systems could do nearly all of the driving, and a remote operator could finish up those last couple of steps to complete the route.