Your visit to Las Vegas could bring you a technological experience with new self-driving cars and a special taxi service being offered.
Cars that can drive themselves around are being tested in a variety of locations around the country, but the application of these specialized taxis will be much different than anything else that you’ve seen. The streets of Las Vegas could soon be filled with cars that don’t have a driver behind the wheel, but that’s only for a short period of time and not a permanent driving experience for that vehicle.
What is Halo Car Offering?
The new service coming to Las Vegas will be rolled out before the end of the year. What we will see is a fleet of vehicles that are operated via remote. These electric vehicles will make use of T-Mobile’s 5G network to guide the vehicle to the destination via remote operation. Thankfully, the remote controls of these cars are much more advanced than that of a small toy car you can buy off the shelf at a toy store. These cars will adhere to the rules of the road while driving without a person in them from one place to another.
The only time the Halo fleet will be driverless is when they are between customers. The simple idea of these self-driving cars and an advanced taxi service is to bring a car right to a customer. Halo employees will drive the vehicle via remote to the customer location where a person can get behind the wheel and take the car where they need to go. When the trip is over, the car can remotely move to the next customer and pick up the new person via a remote operation from Halo customers.
Test Drives are Underway
Halo is already testing the operation of these new vehicles with safety drivers in the seat to take over when the remote operation doesn’t work right. These safety drivers won’t be included with the service is launched for paying customers, which might make some customers avoid Halo as a choice for the ride to their next destination.
Will this program be a success for Halo, or will we talk about headlines of Halo cars that were in accidents because of remote failure or a system failure through the 5G network? The network being used will be mostly on the mid and low-bands of 5G, but LTE will be a fallback for this service. When these networks aren’t functioning correctly, other networks are also used as backups.
Other Driverless Services in Las Vegas
The new Halo fleet will not be the first driverless and autonomous program in Las Vegas. Currently, Lyft has self-driving cars offering a taxi service around the city. Motional also is testing autonomous driving vehicles in the area without a backup driver in the seat. These two services have experience success thus far but don’t have the same application that Halo is offering to customers.
When we see the Halo program offered to customers, the service will feel different from the others. The Halo cars are only used remotely/autonomously, between customers. This means a customer will be required to drive the car. These cars also have an “Advanced Safe Stop” feature installed, which will automatically bring the car to a stop if a hazard is detected. Hopefully, these cars will also use this feature if the network being used goes down, or a network connection fails, but we don’t know if that’s part of the safety measures being taken to allow these cars to operate in the city.
Learning to Drive
We know that driverless cars could easily operate without people when programming and networks are working correctly. The trouble with computerized driving compared to human driving has to do with the human comfort level. Because of this, the Halo cars will not only allow customers to drive them, but these cars will also be learning from the operators to understand the driving habits that make people comfortable with the ride. With other people in other cars around them, the Halo car will have to succumb to human influence and understand how to drive on the road.
Fulfilling a 5G Promise
The development of 5G came with the promise of fully remote driverless vehicles, and Halo is working to fulfill that promise. Even though these cars will allow us to see how 5G can be used, don’t expect the Halo self-driving cars to bring the taxi service to the Vegas Strip or down some of the busiest areas of the city. At launch, this service will operate mostly in the urban parts of the Las Vegas Valley, which could make it a good service for those that need to head to the airport or to an area just outside of the city area.
Will Tourists Use this Service?
The city of Las Vegas is situated in a place that’s perfect for testing autonomous vehicles. The weather is relatively predictable, the air is dry, and the roads aren’t subject to sudden temperature changes. Even so, this city is also the place for parties, depravity, gambling, and nightlife. As a city that has been called “Sin City” in many ways, those that visit Las Vegas are often looking for a good time that might include heavy drinking. Smart tourists will not want to use the Halo service, which would require a designated driver to be part of the group.
You Could Have Stories to Tell
If you’re willing to try something new, the Halo service could be one you enjoy. You’re not under autonomous control while inside the vehicle, which should give you the comfort and confidence needed. These vehicles are only being remotely operated when they are between customers, which is kind of cool, especially if you’re standing on the sidewalk waiting for your car and it pulls up without a driver in the seat. If you head to Las Vegas, this could be an experience that gives you another great story to tell.
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