Halo plans to begin offering its first driverless car service to customers in Las Vegas later this year.
The autonomous vehicle startup’s cars will run on T-Mobile’s 5G network. The car service will initially be available “in urban areas of the Las Vegas Valley,” according to a press release from Halo.
Although Halo cars do not have a driver, they are not fully autonomous. Remote drivers will control Halo cars using proprietary technology. The cars are equipped with nine cameras which transmit the video to a remote “driver” who controls the vehicle. Self-driving car technology such as radar and ultrasonic sensors will serve as a backup for the remote driver.
But once the passengers get in the car, they get behind the wheel, just like they would in a regular rental car. Once the user arrives at their destination, the Halo car returns to remote mode and drives away.
“It’s like a normal car, you just drive it where you want to go, and once you’re there, just get off and go,” said Anand Nandakumar, founder and CEO of Halo.
Getting inside a fully autonomous vehicle can, of course, be frightening for many people. Nandakumar said he is trying to bridge the gap between the present of the human-driven car and a fully autonomous future.
“Full autonomy is a huge challenge from a technical point of view and of social trust that will not be solved for years,” Nandakumar said in a press release. “But Halo was designed to meet these challenges by building automation over time, starting with a solution consumers will feel comfortable using today. “
The company aims to “replace the need for thousands of personal cars” and create “a world without traffic, carbon and blue skies,” the press release said. Nandakumar predicts that Halo will “expand to suburban Las Vegas,” but is currently focusing on urban areas of the city.
The company has generated “great interest from other cities in the United States,” but is committed to making Las Vegas a success in the first place, Nandakumar said.
Halo aims to appeal to visitors and residents, he added.
“Our mission is to make mobility affordable for everyone. In Las Vegas, we’ll start with tourists and locals from a geographically fenced area, ”Nandakumar told the Review Journal Thursday.
Clark County Commissioner Justin Jones, who is also vice chairman of the Southern Nevada Regional Transportation Commission, described the collaboration as a boon to the future of transportation in the Las Vegas Valley.
“For years, Nevada has been a hub for innovation in autonomous vehicles and a leader in this field,” Jones said. “Halo technology and 5G provide a smart transition from where we are today to where we want to be in the years to come, giving residents and visitors a better and more energy efficient way to get around this great city. “
Halo’s new driverless and autonomous vehicle program is one of many in southern Nevada.
In January 2018, Lyft and Aptiv launched driverless limousine service in Las Vegas. Motional began testing fully autonomous vehicles in the city at the end of February. Amazon-owned Zoox is also testing its vehicles in Las Vegas.