New Las Vegas car service company Halo uses technology — not physical drivers — to get vehicles to its customers.
After a rider connects with Halo online, a 5G-connected driver miles away remotely pilots an electric Kia Niro to the customer, who then gets behind the wheel and takes it from there.
Halo founder and CEO Anand Nandakumar says the company targets people who might be early technology adopters but aren't yet ready to let a robot take full control.
“It's quite simple for customers, they take your app, push a button, summon a ride, and we bring an all-electric driverless car to their doorstep,” Nandakumar said. “And then once it gets there, unlike a normal rideshare service, they jump into the driver's seat, and we give them full control over the vehicle. And they just drive it away.”
Nandakumar said that besides it being in a town full of tourists needing a ride, Las Vegas is a good home for Halo because of supportive local and state governments.
"They have a vision for what they want for the state; they have a vision for what they want for the city, which is advanced technology," Nandakumar said.
He estimates fully self-driving cars are more than a decade away, and that Halo provides a bridge between then and now.
“We should make this as a service model, where a car just comes to you when you need a car,” Nandakumar, adding that more testing is needed before settling on a pricing structure.
Nandakumar said the company currently employs in-car backup drivers, but the remote drivers have a 360-degree view of the road and as much control as someone in the vehicle.
“We've made it a point where it's so easy to remotely drive the car, it just feels like as if you're sitting inside the vehicle,” he said, with real-time data and video being provided to drivers by T-Mobile and other carriers.
“We've got an incredible partnership with T-Mobile,” Nandakumar said, and “we've worked very, very closely in identifying the areas where we could start deployments.”
Anand Nandakumar, founder, Halo remote-driver car service company
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