Remotely driven cars will be hitting the roads of Milton Keynes in 2022, as British tech start-up Imperium Drive launches public trials of the app-based Fetch ride-hailing service.
Users of the app will be able to summon a car, which is then delivered by a driver operating the vehicle remotely via a steering wheel and monitors.
A wireless connection to the car over the 5G mobile phone network allows it to be driven from a remote office, and Imperium Drive says there are sufficient failsafes to mean cars in the public trial won’t need a back-up driver on-board during the remote control deliveries.
The Fetch app will be the first application of remote driving tech in the UK, the company says. It reckons the service will be a first step in the transition to fully autonomous deliveries in five years.
Unlike other ride-hailing services, Fetch says its service will rely on the app user driving the vehicle for their journey. As a result it claims fees to the user will be less than half the cost of services such as Uber or Bolt.
“For fleet operators in the car sharing and short-term rental sector, remote driving technology can significantly increase revenue per car,” the company says. “They can relocate cars more quickly at periods of high demand, such as during rush hour, which is key to maximising utilisation rates. They can also extend the reach of their operations to enable intercity travel, while reducing fleet management costs associated with repositioning cars when rental periods end”.
Using 5G connectivity, the Fetch system allows remote drivers to switch between different cars as required. A fleet of vehicles is currently being trialled on private roads, with the project supported by Milton Keynes Council and funding from the government’s 5G Create initiative.
Would you feel comfortable sharing the roads with remote controlled vehicles? Let us know in the comments…