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November 22, 2023
German teledrive specialist Vay has successfully driven a vehicle without a human occupant in Las Vegas for the first time.
And in doing so, it has become the first company to achieve the feat on both sides of the Atlantic.
In February, Berlin-based Vay broke new ground when it deployed a vehicle without a human inside on public roads in Hamburg – the first time this had been done in Europe.
Then in June, it announced it was expanding its focus to the United States, with the opening of an office in Vegas to plan its attack on the American market.
Now, just six months later, it has completed its first trip in the city without a safety driver, following in the footsteps of Halo, which has already established teledrive “driverless” rides there.
Although Vay’s vehicles have no one behind the steering wheel, they take a very different approach to those from self-driving taxi operators Cruise and Waymo, in that they are driven remotely.
Professionally trained teledrivers, located at a remote hub, sit at a workstation with a steering wheel, pedals and other vehicle controls developed by Vay to meet automotive industry standards.
The surroundings of the vehicle on the road are reproduced via camera sensors and relayed to the monitors of the teledrive station, while sounds – such as emergency vehicles’ sirens – are transmitted via microphones to the teledriver’s headphones.
The connection is via cellular networks, with multiple providers for enhanced safety, in case of any latency issues. The system also features an array of redundancies.
Ultimately, Vay’s goal – in both Germany and the U.S. – is to offer a commercial door-to-door mobility service, where users order one of the company’s EVs via its app and the car is delivered, ready for use, by way of a teledriver.
The user then takes over and drives the EV to their chosen destination, whereupon the teledriver resumes control and either parks it or delivers it to the next user.
In time, as Vay accumulates data through use, more fully autonomous features will be introduced.
The company says it is liaising with authorities in both Germany and the U.S. before launching commercially and – obviously mindful of the current landscape regarding self-driving cars – has been amplifying its safety credentials.
Via says it follows key safety standards for vehicle safety, functional safety and cybersecurity and has been endorsed by TÜV Süd, an independent third-party testing body based in Germany.
Vay co-founder and CEO Thomas von der Ohe hailed the company’s Vegas breakthrough, stating: “This not only showcases our team’s incredible capabilities but also places both Europe and the U.S. at the forefront of teledriving technology.”
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