The driverless car startup Halo is bringing an electric fleet of remotely operated vehicles to Las Vegas later this year, using T-Mobile’s 5G network. Despite being a huge step forward for 5G remote driving, there is a significant catch. The cars are not operated exclusively on T-Mobile 5G. While it’s the primary network used (mid- and low-band 5G, specifically), there will be other networks involved.
It’s that simple: Halo will operate the vehicles remotely, delivering them to customers who get behind the wheel and drive to their destination. A remote control allows the vehicle to move on to the next pick-up after the trip has ended.
The company will have driverless cars in Las Vegas later this year, according to Halo and T-Mobile
Halo is also currently operating tests with safety drivers in vehicles, which it says it will not include when the service launches for paying customers. I know it sounds easy, but it’s actually quite hard.
In Las Vegas, there is no shortage of driverless and autonomous vehicle pilot programs. Lyft operates a driverless taxi service, and Motional has been testing autonomous rides without a backup driver.
Halo’s service is a bit different, as it says it will use a remote driver & use advanced safety features, such as automatic stopping if an accident is detected. Overall, the company hopes to reach full autonomy, and its vehicles will “learn” from their human drivers in the meantime.
The promise of fully remote and driverless cars has been a key feature of 5G, and it’s a case where 5G connectivity is able to deliver the speed and low latency that it promises. However, our networks are nowhere near meeting that bar yet in the US. It appears we are still a long way away from being able to use 5G remote control fully.
The service isn’t going to be widely available at first, either. In a statement, Halo says that the service will launch in parts of the Las Vegas Valley and does not specify what area it will cover at launch, just that it intends to expand later.
Besides the Dish Network 5G launch, which is supposed to take place in Las Vegas this summer, T-Mobile plans to play a role in the venture via its acquisition of Sprint. If T-Mobile’s 5G network can indeed support remotely operated trucks, Sprint’s spectrum will play a key role. We should remember that we’re still lacking a fourth wireless carrier before we get carried away by driverless cars.