On Thursday, an autonomous truck technology company announced a milestone demonstration of how their driverless trucks identify and comply with law enforcement vehicles.
On August 4, San Fransciso-headquartered Embark Trucks, Inc. announced a successful public demonstration of their self-driving vehicle technology recognizing a law enforcement vehicle and pulling over for a traffic stop.
Following a partnership with the Texas Department of Public Safety (Texas DPS) and the Travis County Sheriff’s Office (TCSO) announced in June, Embark says that they’ve “developed the capability for Embark-powered trucks to identify and stop for law enforcement vehicles in situations such as traffic stops, and built communication protocols and standard operating procedures between autonomous trucks and law enforcement officers.”
The company shared a video that they say “represents the first-ever public demonstration of an autonomous truck being pulled over by law enforcement and participating in a routine traffic stop on a public highway.”
See the video below.
“The ability to engage safely in emergency vehicle interactions is necessary to operate an autonomous vehicle on public roads,” said Emily Warren, Head of Public Policy at Embark Trucks. “Law enforcement always needs to be able to stop a commercial vehicle – autonomous or not – to ensure compliance with the law. This capability was designed to work seamlessly within existing law enforcement workflows, without requiring new training or technology investment by first responders.”
Embark says that there are two aspects to the successful emergency vehicle interaction:
- First, Embark’s engineering team built the technical functionality for the capability. This included training Embark-powered trucks to identify emergency vehicles via lights and other cues, and then respond accordingly by pulling over safely onto highway shoulders.
- Second, Embark developed 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. When commercially deployed, this effort may include outfitting Embark trucks with clear visual cues and information to signal to law enforcement and other first responders that an Embark-powered truck is an autonomous vehicle and has come to a safe stop with no risk of restarting unexpectedly. Embark’s externally accessible lockbox, containing information such as registration and bills of lading, as well as a toll-free number to contact an Embark Guardian support technician, are also included in the company’s plans to assist law enforcement officers as they perform roadside traffic stops.
Embark says that these two features allow their trucks to “comply with law enforcement requests, just like a human-driven truck would respond in similar situations.”