Tech firm Mapless AI is testing two “teleoperated” cars remotely driven by a person miles away at Pittsburgh International Airport (PIT).
As part of the testing program, a person in one of PIT’s parking lots summons Mapless’ car (a Kia hatchback) with an app, and an operator in downtown Pittsburgh connected to the vehicle via commercial cellular networks drives it to that person’s exact location. The person gets in and drives manually to the terminal. After he or she gets out, the remote operator again takes over and guides the car to a temporary location where it waits for the next call.
Mapless calls it “car-hailing,” and the possibilities are transformative for transportation networks. The technology is specifically designed to keep the vehicle safe even when connectivity with the remote operator is lost. In the event of a disconnection, the vehicle decelerates until it comes to a complete stop and waits to either reconnect or be taken over by a manual driver.
During the testing period at PIT, a person will be in the driver’s seat of the vehicle at all times as a backup to the remote operator.
Mapless AI in the latest in a series of new technologies introduced at PIT through the XBridge innovation program. During its nearly three years of existence, the xBridge has tested UV-enhanced robot scrubbers, air filtration monitoring systems, algae-powered “living technology” to reduce CO2 levels and more to the airport, breaking new ground for the industry.
“At xBridge, we build partnerships with early-stage companies driving innovation in their industries, giving us early access to new, potentially game-changing technologies while giving these companies the opportunity to test and pilot in a real-world operating environment,” said PIT’s xBridge Director Cole Wolfson. “Mapless AI’s technology and service can have an immense impact on a number of fleet and mobility industries, and we are excited to explore how it can enhance the airport experience.”