“There is so much cognition that you need here,” Sierhuis says. The driver—or the car—has to interpret the placement of the cones and the behavior of the human worker to understand that in this case, it’s OK to drive through a red light on the wrong side of the road. “This is not gonna happen in the next five to ten years.”
It’s a stunning admission, in its way: Nissan’s R&D chief believes the truly driverless car—something many carmakers and tech giants have promised to deliver within five years or fewer—is an unreachable short-term goal. Reality: one; robots: zero. Even a system that could handle 99 percent of driving situations will cause trouble for the company trying to promote, and make money off, the technology. “We will always need the human in the loop,” Sierhuis says.
But Nissan has a solution: a call center with human meatbags ready to take command via remote control.
For when your day job as an air traffic controller just isn't quite stressful enough...