Teleoperation relies on public cellular networks (LTE, 5G) and/or dedicated Wi-Fi networks to transfer information between the vehicle and the teleoperation center, with virtually no delay. The key to successful operation is continuous two-way data streaming, regardless of shifting network conditions.
Herein lies the challenge—neither LTE nor Wi-Fi are designed to support such high bandwidth and ultra-low latency communication from a moving vehicle, across a vast geography. Meanwhile, 5G will take years to roll out in entire cities and countries.
Furthermore, once a strong and continuous data connection between station and vehicle is established, inherent challenges remain in the act of teleoperating itself. How does one drive a vehicle safely when there are at least a few tens or hundreds of milliseconds difference between what’s happening and what the teleoperator sees?
Upon establishing the connection, the operations can be executed safely.
Nevertheless, there’s another major dragon to slay, one that bedevils every new technology—namely, hackers. It’s bad enough when a bank account is hacked and money is pilfered. The harm is far worse when a teleoperation station is hacked and the hacker seizes control of the AV, thereby sabotaging all of the safety and ingenuity that has brought us this far.
Lastly, there’s the matter of user experience (UX). The importance of UX goes far beyond how enjoyable or easy it is to use a teleoperation platform. Due to the different way a teleoperator may perceive the environment as opposed to an in-vehicle driver, efforts must be made to counterbalance this effect. It’s not enough to just give a video feed and issue commands. A teleoperator requires haptic feedback, situational awareness, and an overlay to utilize sensor systems to translate their information into actionable decisions.
Clearly many questions remain to be answered. Teleoperation, a seemingly simple technology, involves a multitude of technologies and systems to implement correctly. This is the first article in a series of articles in which each potentially problematic aspect of teleoperation is addressed and answered.