Halo to launch 5G-powered remote control car service in Las Vegas – TechCrunch
5G technology has generated a lot of hype for its potential to power driverless cars using a remote operator, but over the past few years, that’s all it has been – hype. Las Vegas-based startup Halo and telecommunications giant T-Mobile are teaming up to change that, with a 5G-powered driverless electric car service in Las Vegas to launch later this year.
The service, which will start with five vehicles, will operate by connecting users to Halo’s pilot fleet of vehicles through an app. After a user has ordered a vehicle, a remote operator will take them to the standby customer. Once the car has been delivered, the user can get behind the wheel and drive the vehicle normally for the duration of their trip. Once the trip is over, the remote operator takes over and drives it to the next waiting customer.
Halo Deviates significantly from companies like Waymo or Cruise, which are developing a complete autonomous driving technology stack that aims to completely eliminate humans – at a distance or in a car – from the equation. Instead, the Halo vehicles will be equipped with nine cameras, radars and ultrasound as a backup (no lidar), and they will connect to remote operators through T-Mobile’s ultra-capacity 5G network.
Halo CEO Anand Nandakumar told TechCrunch that the service can also run on a low-band, extended-range 5G network and LTE as needed.
Halo said in a press release that its cars will be equipped with an algorithm that “learns in the background as humans control the vehicle, creating a unique feedback loop to achieve level 3 capabilities over time.” , suggesting that the company aims for long-term autonomy. (“Level 3” refers to the Society of Automotive Engineers’ five levels of autonomous driving. L3 indicates features that allow the driver to be out of the loop under very limited conditions.)
“Full autonomy is a huge challenge from both a technical point of view and a social trust that will not be resolved for years,” Nandakumar said in the statement. “But Halo was designed to meet these challenges by building automation over time starting with a solution consumers will feel comfortable using today.”
The startup also said its vehicles will be fitted with an advanced secure stop mechanism, which will immediately stop cars if a potential safety hazard is detected.
Last year, Halo joined the 5G Open Innovation Lab co-founded by T-Mobile, giving the startup access to telecom engineers and the mid-spectrum network. Nandakumar declined to say whether T-Mobile is one of the company’s investors.