On the night of 18 March 2018, in a suburb of Phoenix (USA), a woman was knocked down and killed by a self-driving Uber car. This tragic accident brought to public attention the tests that the American company had been running for two years with a view to soon being able to offer a self-driving taxi service. At the same time, the accident revealed that, despite the extent of the testing, there was still no truly autonomous vehicle. Each car had an accompanying Vehicle Operator (VO), an employee whose job it was to watch over the car that was learning to drive itself.
Rather than the technological prowess of an “intelligent” vehicle, VO is interested in the paradoxical role of the vehicle operators, these unseen helpers who watch over the machine learning process whose aim is precisely to be free of human constraints. Over the images from a LiDAR scanner showing what the machine sees, a VO describes her experience.