As you might imagine, operating an autonomous vehicle safely during a test comes with a lot of complexity. This process is led by our AlphaOps team. We’ll typically have a software operator monitoring vehicle health and AI behavior from inside the vehicle, as well as additional external operators who can bring the vehicle to a safe stop if they need to.
Each structured test presents a treasure trove of information. We can evaluate whether the vehicle behaves as expected, relative to both our simulations and our design and engineering intent. But we measure other things too: how the vehicle performs under acceleration or deceleration, how close it comes to other vehicles and obstacles, how it is affected by weather conditions, and so on. All of this data is collected and analyzed by our System Design and Mission Assurance (SDMA) team.
This information helps us define further simulations and, in turn, further structured tests. It’s an iterative loop that enables us to improve our software and, ultimately, to get our vehicle ready for public roads.
The process requires deep collaboration between different teams at Zoox. Our Simulation team works with engineers on our Perception team to define scenarios. Our Program Management Office (PMO) team schedules track tests and organizes logistics. The SDMA team runs our track tests and analyzes the results, while AlphaOps operates the test vehicles. Everything we learn is fed back to our software teams, who iterate their code accordingly; new code is carefully checked by Quality Assurance before it’s deployed in the next version of the vehicle software. Then, the process begins again.
If this process seems meticulous, there’s a good reason for that. Safety is foundational to all that we do at Zoox, and when it comes to safety, there are no shortcuts. Our structured testing process has been carefully designed to set a new bar in safety—for our crew today, and for our riders tomorrow.