Saving Lives and Transforming Transportation: Guident’s Quest for Autonomous Vehicles
Every year, the world witnesses a staggering number of deaths due to traffic accidents, reaching approximately 1.3 million fatalities globally. In the United States alone, the number of deaths exceeds 40,000 annually. However, researchers firmly believe that these alarming figures could be dramatically reduced with the widespread adoption of self-driving cars.
Recent studies have shed light on the potential life-saving benefits of autonomous vehicles. One publication estimates that if 90% of cars in the U.S. were self-driving, approximately 25,000 lives could be saved each year. Another review published in the American Journal of Public Health suggests that autonomous vehicles have the potential to save up to 10 million lives per decade. These projections emphasize both the challenges and the immense impact that technology can have on our transportation systems.
While the complete transition to self-driving cars may not happen overnight, one local company is actively working to lead the way into the future. Guident, led by Harald Braun, is not a car manufacturer but a software company dedicated to guiding autonomous vehicles and enhancing their safety. Braun describes the current situation as a “transportation crisis of death and preventable errors” and envisions a future where humans are removed from the driving equation.
Guident collaborates with car manufacturers to integrate its advanced technology into existing autonomous vehicle software stacks. By adding their software and artificial intelligence capabilities, Guident aims to empower cars to make informed decisions on how to navigate the roads safely. However, contrary to popular belief, these self-driving cars are not entirely devoid of human involvement. Guident operates a remote monitoring and control center, akin to air traffic control, where a remote-control operator (RCO) closely monitors the autonomous vehicles. The RCO acts as a safety net, ready to intervene if necessary and ensuring passenger safety.
While the software and algorithms driving the autonomous vehicles handle the majority of the decision-making process, the human operator in the control center provides an additional layer of safety. They can assess complex situations that may require human judgment and verify the performance of the algorithms. In cases where the autonomous vehicle encounters unexpected obstacles, experiences technical glitches, or is involved in an accident, the RCO can assume control of the vehicle and steer it back on track. Furthermore, they can communicate with passengers or request assistance if needed.
As we experienced firsthand, Guident’s test vehicle showcased the seamless coordination between the remote control operator and the car on the road. The transition from human to remote control operation was nearly imperceptible, and the journey proceeded with remarkable smoothness. Presently, Guident’s operations are limited to controlled environments such as hospitals, specific residential areas, and office parks like the Boca Raton Innovation Campus.
Although the future of widespread autonomous vehicle adoption may appear distant, in many ways, it is already upon us. Technology is reshaping decades-old transportation norms, and Guident aspires to play a significant role in this transformative process. Harald Braun acknowledges that people often cling to what has worked reliably until it no longer suffices. He believes that it is time to embark on a new trajectory curve and establish an industry centered around autonomous vehicles, interconnectedness, and advancements benefiting humanity.
Guident plans to continue refining its software and expanding its team. Braun envisions the gradual incorporation of autonomous vehicles into geo-fenced areas, such as campuses and neighborhoods. From there, he envisions a future where autonomous vehicles seamlessly integrate with public transportation, contributing to the development of smart cities and revolutionizing transportation and lifestyle as we know it. As we embrace this technological revolution, we inch closer to a world where self-driving cars redefine transportation safety, improve efficiency, and save countless lives. Guident’s pioneering efforts serve as a testament to the transformative potential of autonomous vehicles.