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Autonomous Vehicles

Published on April 12th, 2018 | by Nicolas Zart


Self-Driving Cars Are Great, But Who Drives You When They Don’t?

April 12th, 2018 by  

Technology is great and we often celebrate tech breakthroughs and ingenious advances as we wait for even better electric vehicles (EV) and autonomous vehicles (AV), aka self-driving cars. But using services also means dealing with interruptions and breakdowns. Simply put, everything breaks down and can leave you waiting.

This is what the Californian startup Phantom Auto has been asking, and its answer is obvious enough to make us wonder, “Why didn’t we think of that?”

Charles, The AV Is Out, Drive Me Home!

Not too many systems and products suffer no failures. We should not expect AVs to always work in our new electric mobility (e-mobility) scheme of life. Phantom Auto, based in Mountain View, is keeping that top of mind and thinks it has the perfect answer. It intends to drive you remotely should your AV be out of commission and threaten to leave you stranded.

Essentially, Phantom Auto is a system-wide backup for AV traffic and emergency conditions. When an AV is disabled, a Phantom Auto technician remotely takes over the AV and brings you to your destination. It’s also interesting to see how the human factor is back here in the guise of a call center. As far as the remote driving, the session looks a lot like a driving simulator. Forza 7 anyone?

It’s interesting to see the many new business segments emerging from the EV/AV trend.

According to Shai Magzimof, founder, and CEO of Phantom Auto, “You can train your machine to learn with edge cases which do not exist. You can try to replicate as much as you want in simulation, but real-world edge cases are almost impossible to replicate.”

So, can we say that Phantom Auto drives you home when your AV can’t? Perhaps.

It’s easy to dismiss startups as dreamers and shoe them off. Yet some of them offer solutions to tomorrow’s problems. Having a certain amount of redundancy is nothing new, but you need new types of redundancy when tech changes significantly.

We feel Phantom Auto has the right idea for tomorrow’s peace of mind and allaying riders’ worries about their AV not working. At least they can rely on Phantom in such cases.

What do you think of Phantom Auto and its niche but potentially important solution? 


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About the Author

Nicolas was born and raised around classic cars of the 1920s, but it wasn't until he drove an AC Propulsion eBox and a Tesla Roadster that the light went on. Ever since he has produced green mobility content on various CleanTech outlets since 2007 and found his home on CleanTechnica. His communication passion led to cover electric vehicles, autonomous vehicles, renewable energy, test drives, podcasts, shoot pictures, and film for various international outlets in print and online. Nicolas offers an in-depth look at the e-mobility world through interviews and the many contacts he has forged in those industries. His favorite taglines are: "There are more solutions than obstacles." and "Yesterday's Future Now"

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