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Sacramento and Phantom Auto create safe testing environment for autonomous vehicles

Sacramento, CA – Under an agreement announced today, Sacramento has partnered with Phantom Auto to prepare the city to support teleoperation safety technology for driverless vehicles.

Phantom Auto is the leading provider of safety technology that enables a human operator to take control of an autonomous vehicle (AV) from a remote location – in this case, company headquarters in Mountain View. California law forbids AV companies from conducting driverless testing on public roads unless they are utilizing remote operators. A remote operator can take over control of the driving task when an AV encounters a scenario it can’t safely handle on its own.

The technology relies on wireless networks, so the reliability of service is crucial. Phantom Auto will arrive in Sacramento in August and spend six months testing and mapping the city’s wireless capacity and coverage at the street level, a process that will equip Sacramento to support the remote driver safety technology. During this period, the cars will have human drivers. Once the connectivity data has been collected and mapped, (1) Phantom Auto will conduct driverless vehicle demonstrations on routes throughout Sacramento, and (2) AV companies testing their vehicles in Sacramento can utilize teleoperation safety technology to ensure an optimally safe testing environment.

Sacramento’s partnership with Phantom Auto fits with its strategy of establishing itself as a prime testing ground for new mobility technologies, including the safe deployment of AVs. The effort has been spearheaded by Mayor Darrell Steinberg, U.S. Rep. Doris Matsui, Sen. Richard Pan and Sacramento Kings co-owner and Chairman Vivek Ranadivé,

“The technology being pioneered by Phantom Auto could speed up the safe deployment of autonomous vehicles,” said Mayor Steinberg. “Here in Sacramento, we are creating a testing ground for such technologies that will ensure our status as a hub for the jobs they create.”

Elliot Katz, Chief Strategy Officer of Phantom Auto, said: “It is vitally important that lifesaving AVs get deployed rapidly and at scale, but it is imperative that they are deployed in an optimally safe manner. By laying the infrastructure needed for teleoperation technology to be used throughout Sacramento, the city is embracing innovation and safety equally.”

Louis Stewart, Sacramento’s Chief Innovation Officer, stated: “We want to accelerate the time to market for AVs, and simultaneously ensure that our citizens are safe during the testing and deployment of AVs in Sacramento. Accelerating these life-saving vehicles to market does not mean sacrificing on safety – a point we are clearly illustrating with this partnership.”