What do law-enforcement officials do when they need to stop a driverless truck? Autonomous truck tech developer Embark Trucks is working with the Texas Department of Public Safety to answer that question.
A recent viral video featured a confused law enforcement officer who approached a driverless car – which then proceeded to speed off into an intersection. Although it was slightly humorous, it was an illustration of some of the challenges faced in deploying autonomous vehicles.
Embark has been working to develop an emergency vehicle interaction capability for Embark-powered autonomous trucks to identify, stop for, and interface with law enforcement vehicles. The company’s working with the Texas DPS to train Embark-powered trucks to identify law enforcement vehicles in situations such as traffic stops, and to develop communication protocols and standard operating procedures between autonomous trucks and law enforcement officers.
Embark plans to publicly demonstrate the emergency vehicle interaction capability later this summer.
The emergency vehicle interaction capability is an engineering breakthrough with two key components:
- Embark’s engineering team is building the technical functionality for the capability, training Embark-powered trucks to identify emergency vehicle lights and other cues to slow down and pull over safely onto highway shoulders in accordance with law enforcement requests.
- Embark is developing an interaction procedure with input from law enforcement that can enable any law enforcement officer to safely stop, approach, and receive information from an autonomous truck, intuitively and without any additional equipment. This effort may include outfitting Embark trucks with clear visual cues and information to signal to law enforcement personnel that an Embark-powered truck is an autonomous vehicle and has come to a safe stop with no risk of restarting unexpectedly.
Embark also plans to outfit trucks with a lockbox accessible to law enforcement containing vehicle and load information such as registration and bills of lading, as well as contact information so law enforcement officers can reach an Embark Guardian operator to verify documentation.
Together, these features represent a comprehensive process for Embark-powered trucks to comply with law enforcement requests and, in the unlikely event of a traffic stop, pull over onto the highway shoulder so officers can safely interact with the truck.
Emergency vehicle interaction is the next capability Embark has identified in its technical capabilities roadmap1, which details 16 technology achievements it has outlined that need to happen in order to deploy autonomous technology in the U.S. Sunbelt, the region stretching across the southeastern and southwestern U.S. Embark has already achieved 11 of these milestones, and the emergency vehicle interaction capability represents the next step toward commercial deployment of its technology.
Other remaining technology milestones include evasive maneuvers, emergency vehicle interactions, blown tires, safety pulling over to the shoulder, and inspections.