Imagine renting a car that collects you from your front door. It may sound too good to be true, but that is exactly what we’ve been exploring with technology start-up Imperium Drive.
A new way to rent a car
Established in 2019, the UK-based company is bringing a new approach to car rental services with its new mobility service, Fetch (fetchcar.io).
The Fetch app allows customers to hire an electric car via their smartphone. The vehicle is then remotely driven by a human operator to the customer’s door. Once it has arrived the customer can unlock the car and drive to their destination.
When finished, they can pull over and end the ride on the app. A human operator will then take control of the vehicle, driving it to the next customer or to the nearest parking base.
In order for this to be possible, and safe, the platform needs fast, reliable connectivity – which is where Vodafone Business come in.
The route to remote driving
The vehicle is equipped with cameras and other sensors so that it can capture information about the environment, which is then transmitted over our 5G network to a remote operator at Fetch. The operator can then use this information to make decisions and control the vehicle's movement.
This is because 5G, paired with Multi-Access Edge Computing (MEC), offers super-fast speeds, low lag time and has the necessary capacity to enable all this information to be transferred almost instantly and without interruption – which enables remote driving at higher speeds and with better levels of service.
Working with Imperium Drive, we’ve spent the past couple of months testing our network capabilities in the Fetch service area around Milton Keynes in the UK.
Conducting tests mostly in the city centre and neighbouring areas, predominantly on roads with a speed limit of 30 mph, the aim was to measure the latency and performance of our 5G and MEC capabilities.
We spoke to the CEO of Imperium Drive, Koosha Kaveh, to find out more about the UK-based project and to see the car in action:
The journey to autonomy
The results of the project show that in areas of good to moderate 5G coverage, it is possible to support the remote driving application requirements and drive safely at higher speeds. However, current 5G coverage will need to be expanded to allow society to reap the benefits of this technology at scale over the longer-term.
Governments and transport authorities also need to establish rules about how autonomous and remote driving technology can be used safely on public roads and deeper collaboration between telecom operators and remote driving technology providers will be needed to help fill existing gaps in coverage and to create the road infrastructure required.
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