Is there a real business case for teledriving?

Automated driving comes in many different forms. A couple of luxury brands are starting to offer SAE Level 3 applications, which in certain circumstances allow a human driver to temporarily remove their hands from the steering wheel and their eyes from the road. The Mercedes-Benz Drive Pilot and BMW’s Personal Pilot are setting the bar on this front today. There are also a small number of fully driverless ride-hailing services, such as Waymo One, with a computer handling all the driving functions. Then there is teleoperation, where a human remotely operates a vehicle on the road from a command station.

This last use case is not ‘driverless’ in the full sense, as there is always a human behind the vehicle’s operations, but that human is not in the vehicle. Instead, the teleoperator relies on a live visual feed of the road environment from the car’s sensors, avoiding dangerous blind spots. They hear the same sounds as any vehicle occupant, alerting them to the presence of emergency vehicles in the same way. Teledrivers generally come from a background in professional driving, often from taxi or ride-hailing services, and are provided with several weeks of training. Only after obtaining certification can they get behind the controls of the teledrive station, consisting of a seat, a steering wheel, pedals, etc., to control the vehicle.

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