Sharing cars that pick you up where you are

An Estonian start-up will test a concept of real remote-controlled cars. Purpose: to make shared cars available where the customer is.

A car without a driver, but not self-driving for all that … this is the technology that Elmo is working on. This Estonian start-up has just unveiled a prototype car that can be driven remotely.

Connected in 4G to the control station, an operator sitting in a wheelchair, with his hands on the steering wheel and feet on a pedal, driving remotely while watching the road and any obstacles from a screen of almost identical size as a windshield.

It is from this driving position that resembles a video game station that the driver can remotely control the vehicle.
It is from this driving position that resembles a video game station that the driver can remotely control the vehicle. © Elmo

Cameras, a 4G connection, a gaming steering wheel

A series of cameras are installed on the vehicle to film the surroundings, the images are broadcast on the screen by the driver, who Elmo calls the supervisor. Vehicle and remote driving position are connected in 4G. The steering equipment developed by Elmo reproduces identically on the steering wheel of the vehicle the action of the supervisor on the one he has in his hands, via electrical impulses. The same for the pedals.

Elmo promises not to install too many extra sensors in each vehicle, so as not to contaminate the driver’s driver’s seat. The remote control also switches off as soon as the user receives the car. And what if the connection is lost? The Estonian start-up ensures that the vehicle stops after five seconds.

“To optimize the delivery process, we have developed a technology that relies on a remote-controlled vehicle, you order the car on your application and it comes to you without a physical driver in the car,” explains Kristiina Kalda, Director France Elmo. is remotely controlled by our telecom operator, who is in fact a natural person “.

Strictly speaking, the car is not an autonomous car, even if it does not have a driver.

The steering wheel that allows the operator to remotely control Elmo's car.
The steering wheel that allows the operator to remotely control Elmo’s car. © Elmo

During the very first tests to be launched in July in Estonia, a supervisor will be present in the prototype cockpit to ensure safety. But if the tests go well, the implementation of this solution can go very fast.

“We have been doing a lot of testing for two years, but we will launch the service in Estonia in a few weeks, during the month of June, the idea is not to develop a technology into a technology, but to understand the customer’s needs and to meet them” , continues Kristiina Kalda.

Rules in preparation

And the current rules do not seem to be an obstacle. “The car is not autonomous. For autonomous cars, a number of texts are being prepared. In Estonia, we work hand in hand with the authorities to give them all our data so that the authorities can enshrine this in the rules,” explains Kristiina Kalda. And we believe in , that this will be the case in many countries ”.

Elmo will start tests to remotely control its cars.
Elmo will start tests to remotely control its cars. © Elmo

Thanks to this technology, Elmo wants to automate a mode of operation that it already uses in Estonia in its car-sharing system for electric cars. Once booked via the application, the customer finds the vehicle at the bottom of his home or the chosen location, via a driver who delivers him.

“For a year now, we have been delivering vehicles to our customers because we know that one of the obstacles for car sharing is that the customer has to pick up the vehicle, for example at a parking lot. Car sharing,” explains Kristiina Kalda. we deliver the car to their doorstep “.

Elmo is very optimistic about the commercial development of its technology. “If we are sure of safety, we can do without the driver, for example, a month after the start of the tests,” explains Kristiina Kalda.

Pauline Ducamp

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