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Halo Car’s remote car-sharing service will roll out this year without anyone behind the wheel • londonbusinessblog.com

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Halo Car, a Las Vegas-based startup that combines teleoperations and carsharing, said it will remove the human safety operator from behind the wheel later this year — the final hurdle to its commercial launch.

The milestone would mean that Halo Car will use people to remotely drive vehicles through public streets and deliver them to customers of car-sharing services. These fully remote deliveries mark the official launch of commercial operations and the start of a campaign to scale up and expand the electric vehicle fleet outside of Las Vegas.

The unique approach to carsharing has attracted several investors. The company said Wednesday it has raised $5 million in a seed round led by climate technology fund At One Ventures, with participation from T-Mobile Ventures, Earthshot Ventures and existing investor Boost VC. The funds will help the startup expand into cities outside of Las Vegas and scale its fleet to 1,000 EVs by the end of 2023.

Halo Car’s model should not be confused with autonomous vehicle technology companies such as Argo AI, Aurora, Cruise, Waymo and Zoox, who have developed self-driving systems designed to allow vehicles to navigate public streets without people in the loop. are – either behind the wheel or remotely. The Halo Car model provides remote human assistance at all times.

Halo Car’s business model traverses Zipcar, requiring customers to pick up the car where the previous user parked it, with traditional car rental companies such as Enterprise and Rent-A-Car. However, Halo Car will deliver the vehicle directly to the next customer; think of chauffeur service with white gloves, without the white gloves or the driver.

Founder and CEO Anand Nandakumar developed the idea of ​​using remote control while leading the perception for Uber’s self-driving unit Advanced Technologies Group. Looking at the 10-year horizon for fully autonomous driving, he thought that remote human pilots could serve as a bridge to deploy driverless cars sooner.

Halo Car’s third-party operators operate from the company’s headquarters in Las Vegas, using T-Mobile’s Ultra Capacity midband 5G network, as well as extended low-band 5G networks, and on LTE when needed, to transfer video and data from the send cars to a moving car. simulator. The human operator sits in the simulator, which features an oversized TV monitor, steering wheel, pedals and gear lever, and watches out for pedestrians, cyclists, cars, trash cans and other obstacles when the car is in driverless mode.

A teleoperator controls a Halo Car remotely.

The remote pilot disconnects the car as soon as the customer gains keyless access through the Halo Car app. When they’re done, they leave the car for the remote human operator to pick it up and take it back to headquarters, where it’s cleaned, charged, and parked while waiting for the next ride.

If the vehicle loses connection to 5G networks, it will be brought to a complete stop.

Halo Car completed beta testing in Las Vegas earlier this year using two Kia Niro EVs that were retrofitted with six cameras, but without radar, lidar or ultrasound, a simplified approach Tesla prefers. In previous versions of Halo Car’s technology stack, nine cameras, radar and ultrasonics were used to support the remote-controlled operations.

During the beta phase, support operators sat in the cars to oversee the remotely controlled deliveries and were collected and returned to headquarters by a Halo Car employee.

Nandakumar positions Halo Car as a more cost-effective and convenient way to rent an EV without worrying about parking. The vehicles, which can be rented by the hour or at a flat daily rate, could help manufacturers increase their visibility and encourage more potential customers to try EVs. Both General Motors and Polestar are using that playbook and making deals to supply Hertz’s rental fleet with up to 240,000 EVs over the next five years.

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