Autonomous Vehicle Operator School

Last week I traveled with colleagues to Sonoma Raceway for Safe Driver Training, a mandatory class for autonomous vehicle operators.

The class itself is not oriented around autonomous vehicles, but rather how to anticipate and evade dangerous situations on the road. The logic of requiring this class of autonomous vehicle operators, I suppose, is that if you have to take over the vehicle in an emergency, hopefully you are able to anticipate and evade a collision.

The biggest lessons are to look as far ahead as possible. Sit lower in the vehicle and raise your eyes toward the horizon. Then, when performing an evasive maneuver, lock your eyes on where you want the vehicle to go. Or, as the instructors say, “Keep your eyes on safety.”

The class was a lot of fun. Several of the exercises involved negotiating tight turns at high speed, just like if an obstacle popped out at the last minute. Other exercises required us to spin out the vehicle in a tight turn, then regain control and proceed through a gate.

Here’s a practice run for a tight turn exercises — the procedure gets tougher when they don’t tell you which way to turn until the last second:

Since the program is held at Sonoma Raceway, there all sorts of cool racecars around.

We did the program in Chevy Cruzes 🙂

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