You’re in a room in Silicon Valley, watching the ramp unfold in front of you on several screens. That heavy load you’re carrying is thousands of miles away in Florida.
Welcome to teleoperated driving, or remote-controlled driving with a human in front of a steering wheel, brake, and gas pedals, and a “windshield” plastered with monitors. It’s a method that allows autonomous vehicles to operate without anyone inside. Instead, there’s a watchful remote driver, or operator, there for trickier moments that the robo-truck or vehicle can’t handle. A few companies offer remote driving systems that work in conjunction with autonomous vehicles, like Phantom Auto and Starsky Robotics. Other robotics companies rely entirely on remote control. Even Waymo, the Google spin-off autonomous vehicle company, has operators at the ready to take over their self-driving cars in a tough situation.