WHY THIS MATTERS IN BRIEF
Even the best self-driving cars are only a Category 2, out of 5, so if you want a truly driverless car then this is as close as you’ll get for now.
Driverless cars are quietly taking over the streets of several cities around the world, and now US ride-hailing provider Halo have announced they’ve started offering commercial driverless car services in Las Vegas powered by T-Mobile’s ultra-fast and brand new 5G network. With Halo, customers can quickly summon a driverless all-electric taxi in a few clicks via a mobile app and then a driverless Halo arrives, controlled by a remote operator, and they hop in and drive themselves to their destination.
There’s one important thing to point out though – these driverless cars are actually driven by operators who are sitting in a head office far far away.
The company first started operating its cars Las Vegas earlier this year and they’ve been collaborating with local municipalities to accelerate the adoption of Electric Vehicles (EVs) to help solve some of the city’s traffic congestion and carbon emission problems by connecting the city’s public transit systems to their on-demand driverless cars. When fully deployed in the city Halo says they have the opportunity to replace thousands of personally owned cars and “create a more traffic-free, carbon-free, blue-sky world.”
Halo Car’s explainer
“Fuelling this kind of startup innovation is part of why we’ve built the biggest, fastest and most reliable 5G network in the country,” said Mike Sievert, CEO of T-Mobile. “Innovation and driving change for the better is our DNA at the Un-carrier, and we’ve unleashed a 5G network that will transform industries and change our world for the better. I can’t wait to see what comes next as we work with startups, developers and entrepreneurs like Halo building the next big thing in 5G!”
Via its proprietary “RemotePilot” technology Halo trains in-house drivers to remotely operate the driverless car over T-Mobile’s 5G network and they’ve also developed an Advanced Safe Stop Mechanism that enable their cars to immediately come to a full stop if a potential safety hazard is detected. They’ve also been developing their own Artificial Intelligence (AI) algorithm that learns in the background while humans control the vehicle and building a unique feedback loop that, in time, will help their cars achieve Level 3 driverless car capabilities.
“Driverless vehicles require a network with high capacity, broad coverage and low latency, making T-Mobile’s 5G network a perfect match for developers such as Halo,” said John Saw, EVP of Advanced and Emerging Technologies at T-Mobile. “There’s a lot of work to do on the path to full autonomy, and Halo is taking their own unique and intelligent approach to get there.”
“Full autonomy is a massive challenge from both a technical and social trust perspective that won’t be solved for years to come,” added Anand Nandakumar, Halo CEO and founder. “But Halo has been designed to address these challenges by building automation over time starting with a solution that consumers will feel comfortable using today.”