Mar 1, 2019


Artificial intelligence is an incredible leap forward in technology, and its applications to transportation—especially autonomous vehicles—are nearly limitless. But as with other technological leaps forward, it’s impossible to see every possible edge case that might make AI more of a safety liability than a benefit. Enter teleoperation.

The solution of teleoperation shouldn’t be postponed until L4 or L5 vehicles are a reality. It solves needs now, enabling vehicles with Advanced Driver Assistance Systems to avoid obstacles. As an added benefit, teleoperation provides more jobs instead of taking them away.

Here are ten reasons why we need to involve teleoperations in autonomous vehicles in a responsible way, immediately.

  1. Road construction. If you’ve ever been on a road trip in the summer, you know that the gestures of flaggers and signage in construction zones can vary widely. What’s more, construction sites can crop up quickly—and a vehicle’s mapping software can’t always stay updated with the latest info and may not know the latest construction sites. A teleoperator, however, is equipped with the necessary tools and knowledge to direct the vehicle safely through a road construction zone.
  2. Inclement weather. AI can safely detect many hazards, but when unexpected hazards appear suddenly—like spring flooding washing out a bridge a few yards ahead—and an autonomous vehicle doesn’t know how to navigate around them, a teleoperator can turn the car safely around.
  3. Agricultural and mining. The more specialized the vehicle, the more training it takes to operate. And although AI will eventually rise to that challenge, in the meantime, it’s easier and safer to have a human help operate such vehicles remotely than train AI to handle everything that could possibly come up.
  4. Shipping presents similar challenges. Maneuvering a tractor-trailer into a tight spot at a loading dock of, for example, a decades-old warehouse, will be much easier to accomplish with a human teleoperator equipped with live video, satellite imagery, and detailed maps.
  5. Crashes and crowds. Whether it’s a multiple car pileup or the dregs of a parade, an autonomous vehicle will do better with a teleoperator keeping an eye on people milling about, unexpected obstacles in the road, and other traffic.
  6. Pedestrians. This doesn’t just mean a family out for a stroll with the dog. A human teleoperator can be invaluable in discerning among, for example, a police officer directing the autonomous vehicle to cross an intersection against a stoplight or a school crossing guard protecting children in a crosswalk.
  7. Safety regulations. The federal government does not yet have nationwide safety regulations for autonomous vehicles; until it does, the onus to establish them falls to individual states. Teleoperations could help you comply with the most stringent state autonomous vehicle safety regulations.
  8. Human fallibility. Although AI can detect and warn a human occupant of any number of dangerous situations, no amount of warnings will help if they go unheeded. A teleoperator can pay attention and intervene when a human occupant ignores warning signals or suffers a health event (such as a heart attack or stroke) that renders them unable to react.
  9. Human-AI interaction. If existing AI interfaces such as Siri and Alexa have taught us anything, it’s that they don’t always understand what we say, even if we say it clearly. If a passenger has some sort of physical, cognitive, or speech impairment, it may be easier for a human teleoperator to interact with them than an onboard AI interface.
  10. A skeptical public. Knowing that they have the option to interact with an actual human being can allay passengers’ concerns about purchasing or riding in an autonomous vehicle.

Food for thought:
100ms feedback delay is the limit of what humans can tolerate in closed loop control of a system (vehicle). Above that humans start noticing input delay and have issues controlling the system. Strangely, 100ms is also considered the fastest possible reaction time for human runners starting a race.

Learn more about Designated Driver and our approach to teleoperation services.

Feb 15, 2019


Widespread 5G is just around the corner, and not a moment too soon. The Internet of Things is growing by leaps and bounds, and it needs a connection capable of handling the massive volume of data that comes with it.

Driverless cars aren’t wearables or smart appliances, though; people’s safety depends on them working properly. And although teleoperation is an important step in that direction, 5G will help teleoperation make autonomous vehicles that much safer.

There’s a staggering amount of data collected via radar, lidar, and video by a driverless car’s sensors. In fact, an autonomous vehicle generates up to 4,000 GB of data per day, while it responds in real time to road conditions, traffic, and other drivers. All of this data has to get to the teleoperator nearly instantaneously if it’s going to be useful. The 5G network has several new features that can make that happen.

Network stability. Do dropped calls sound familiar? Those are nothing compared to the potential churn created by a driverless car losing its connection to its teleoperator. A driverless car equipped with 5G is much more likely to maintain its connection during crucial scenarios, such as when a shuttle full of university students is navigating inclement weather or a mining truck is moving through a treacherous, off-road situation.

High bandwidth. 5G is expected to operate at speeds of up to 20 gigabits per second, as opposed to 4G, which tops out at 1 gigabit per second. In other words, if 4G is a garden hose, 5G is a fire hose. The ability to receive lots of information fast allows the teleoperator to get relevant, up-to-the-second data on the vehicle’s circumstances and pilot it accordingly.

High capacity. If a driverless car is in a traffic jam with hundreds of other cars—driverless or not—all using 4G wireless connections to talk, text, and send photos and videos, things will slow down considerably. But 5G has room for everyone: It can handle a million connections per square kilometer, as opposed to 4G’s 1,000.

Wide accessibility. Autonomous vehicles should be able to go anywhere. In the future, there will be wide adoption of 5G to support autonomous driving, with infrastructure built to support this.

Low latency. A lot can change in half a second. To safely pilot driverless cars, teleoperators need to know where the vehicle is in the moment. A 5G data connection is expected to respond in 1 millisecond: 50 times faster than 4G. And we all know how important low latency is for teleoperations.

Our teleoperation technology will make the most of 5G’s improved features. The combination will help make driverless cars safer and more responsive.

Learn more about Designated Driver and our approach to teleoperation services.

Jan 23, 2019


At the Consumer Electronics Show (CES) earlier this month, we got the chance to visit with key players in the automotive industry and hear what they had to say about the future of autonomous vehicles. Contrary to a year ago, the industry is no longer talking about level 5 autonomy by 2021—most people are, rightly, thinking of the move to full autonomy as an evolution, not a revolution.

We’re happy to see the industry taking baby steps toward this milestone. We believe that self-driving cars can move the needle in the right direction relative to road safety—but with vehicle manufacturers feeling pressure to race to market, steps can get skipped. That’s why Designated Driver seamless teleoperation is so important: It’s a bridge between getting to market faster and doing so with a safe, reliable product. Read about how we built Designated Driver from the ground up with safety in mind >

News from CES
We noted a few announcements and press takeaways from CES that support the autonomous vehicle evolution:

From VentureBeat, “Nvidia announced that its Drive AutoPilot is the first automated driving system that meets standards for Level 2-plus autonomous cars. That means that the car can automatically handle steering, acceleration, and deceleration in the driver’s environment, as well as features like cruise control and lane centering.”

From ZDNet, “Sprint has announced at CES 2019 that Greenville, South Carolina, will see its first smart city build-out based on both its Curiosity Internet of Things (IoT) platform and mobile 5G network connectivity. As part of the project, Sprint will deploy Massive Multiple-Input Multiple-Output (Massive MIMO) technology as well as a dedicated IoT network and “micro-positioning” technology aimed at enabling connected vehicles, smart machines, and autonomous drones to operate and react in real time.” Read about why 5G could be important for driverless vehicles >

From Forbes, “Most major companies, even those who historically haven’t been automotive suppliers, touted products that could one day make their way into autonomous, or even semi-autonomous cars and robotaxis. Samsung prepared versions of their displays that could be plastered all over the vehicle. Intel showcased an in-vehicle entertainment system for passengers taking robo-rides. Every company doing anything in communications had a solution for connected and autonomous cars.”

Our commitment to safety
As evidenced by the strong showing at CES, the driverless industry is booming. At Designated Driver, we aim to help it boom, safely. In compliance with ISO 26262, all of our processes are designed and implemented to ensure that our customers, including R&D teams within automotive companies, device manufacturers and others, can be confident that our technology platform and certified remote operators will enhance their autonomous offerings and provide unparalleled support.

Learn more about Designated Driver and our approach to teleoperation services.


Jan 7, 2019


We’re on our way to full autonomy, but Level 4 and 5 vehicles will sometimes encounter challenging situations they simply cannot handle appropriately—or safely—without human intervention. AI-based monitoring solutions are limited to safely interrupting a trip and summoning help, but we can do better. And in many industries – including cargo and passenger vehicles, commercial trucking, agriculture and mining—some scenarios are just not suitable for autonomous operation but can easily be handled with a teleoperator at the controls.

Designated Driver will provide the human solution in situations where an automated solution isn’t designed to work.

What is teleoperation?
Teleoperation is the remote control of a system or machine—in this case, an autonomous vehicle. At Designated Driver, we offer teleoperation that works seamlessly for every situation and any vehicle. Ours is one of the most robust remote-control solutions available, and we aim to help our customers more quickly bring to market the safest autonomous vehicles.

We provide remote driving, in which the operator controls the autonomous vehicle as if he or she was in the driver’s seat through traditional driving controls (steering wheel, pedals, etc.). Remote driving handles the broadest set of scenarios and uses human intelligence to make decisions. We will expand into different models of remote assistance, monitoring, and operations center management over time.

What are the benefits?
Designated Driver eliminates significant safety concerns about autonomous vehicles, saves manufacturers development time and money, and helps them expand the market. Our technology is built on safety, from the ground up. For every situation and any vehicle, Designated Driver allows a remote operator to operate all vehicle controls, with 360-degree bi-directional visual and audio interface supported by lidar, radar and sonar visualization and safety controls. And, our technology works seamlessly with automotive companies’ existing autonomous vehicle technology, while layering on human control where needed with virtually any remote vehicle, so you don’t need to replace anything you’ve already developed. Finally, because Designated Driver makes possible remote operation of a wide range of vehicles in situations that are not suitable for autonomous operation, manufacturers can think even bigger, expanding their target markets.

Talk to us about customizing the Designated Driver teleoperation solution to your needs.


Jan 4, 2019


Self-driving cars present vast business opportunities: A recent report from Strategy Analytics projects that The Passenger Economy represents a $7 trillion opportunity globally in 2050. The report states that business use of mobility-as-a-service will generate $3 trillion in revenues, and new emerging applications and services will account for $203 billion in revenues. Realizing this revolution in transportation depends on the development of smart engineering solutions. And teleoperation—a technology and service platform that enables remote driving assistance—is a critical piece in getting autonomous vehicles on the road faster and more safely.

Benefits of autonomy
According to Strategy Analytics, benefits for the era of The Passenger Economy from 2035 to 2045 include:

  • Conservatively, 585,000 lives can be saved due to pilotless vehicles.
  • Pilotless vehicles will free more than 250 million hours of consumers’ commuting time per year in the most congested cities in the world.
  • Reductions in public safety costs related to traffic accidents will amount to more than $234 billion.

Challenges getting to Level 5
The National Highway Traffic Safety Administration (NHTSA) has prioritized helping the industry grow, but autonomous vehicles are not yet ready for the complexity of operation on all roads, in all conditions. And battles between some state governments and the federal government may further impede progress.

Currently, some states have passed legislation requiring ride-along or remote teleoperators, as well as allowing testing autonomous vehicles on public roads. Remote teleoperators can take over operation of the vehicle when needed—such as when a failure in the on-board autonomy system fails, during adverse weather conditions or road construction—but solving the communication latency and maximizing the security of the connection between teleoperator and vehicle are critical.

Functional safety is paramount
The standard ISO 26262 “Road vehicles – Functional safety” is considered a best practice framework for achieving automotive functional safety, and particularly addresses the automotive development cycle. At Designated Driver, our engineering team will always be comprised of Certified Functional Safety Experts, and we have embedded those safety standards into our product development process from day one. With our leadership’s deep background in the automotive industry, we have a firm grasp of what it takes to ensure a sufficient and acceptable level of safety for road vehicles. So, we are equipped to help our customers deliver a safe solution to support their vehicles.

Learn more about how Designated Driver is helping the autonomous vehicle industry race forward, with our Safety First approach to teleoperation services.