This startup has a different take on driverless cars. Now it's launching in the U.S.

Vay operates what’s known as a “teledriving” service, the place a automotive is pushed remotely by a human moderately than by a pc.


German startup Vay on Wednesday launched its so-called “teledriving” answer within the U.S. for the primary time, placing the corporate into direct competitors with extra richly funded and helpful American corporations within the mobility know-how area.

The firm, which has up to now obtained $110 million in funding from traders together with Swedish funding big Kinnevik, U.S. fund Coatue and French non-public fairness fund Eurazeo, mentioned its new service is now reside in Nevada, Las Vegas.

Vay’s service will allow individuals to get automobiles delivered to them instantly by drivers in distant areas operated by Vay. When they’re finished with the journey, they will select in Vay’s app to let one of many firm’s teledrivers take over, after which park the automotive. The automotive is then pushed again by Vay’s teledriver.

The firm has already carried out exams on public roads in Europe and the U.S. with distant drivers and nobody behind the wheel. It has labored to get the tech previous regulators on both aspect of the Atlantic.

Vay, for its half, says that its service is designed with security in thoughts and that drivers must take rigorous exams and evaluations earlier than they’re deemed acceptable to turn out to be a teledriver on its community.

“We develop our teledrive technology in order to fulfill applicable safety requirements and to provide customers a reliable mobility service,” Thomas von der Ohe, Vay’s CEO and co-founder, advised CNBC.

“With teledriving, a human is in charge. This allows us to handle complex maneuvres such as unprotected left turns, emergency situations and road works based on human perception and decision-making ability.”

Von der Ohe added that Vay’s system was in-built compliance with native legal guidelines, and that the corporate has made positive authorities in Nevada have been on board with its know-how earlier than rolling it out.

Different tackle Tesla-like self-driving

Vay is way smaller in scale in contrast with Tesla. But it hopes that its tackle “driverless” automobiles, the place the automobile is pushed by an precise driver primarily based in a distant location some other place, will take off as demand for various mobility choices will increase.

What Vay gives is a automotive rental service that lets customers order a automotive, have the automotive pushed to them by one in all its certified drivers who drive the automobiles out to them remotely, after which take the automotive to drive it themselves to their meant vacation spot.

The thought is that, as soon as the Vay app consumer is finished with their journey, they will then choose within the app for a educated “teledriver” to take over and depart the automotive parked in a parking area on the finish.

Von der Ohe advised CNBC he believes the corporate’s answer is a simpler various to the robotaxis firms comparable to Tesla, Google’s Waymo, and General Motors’ Cruise.

Last 12 months, he mentioned, was a troublesome 12 months for the robotaxi business, with General Motors, a significant participant within the San Francisco self-driving automotive scene, slashing spending on its Cruise self-driving unit by 50% after its robotaxis have been concerned in a variety of accidents, together with a crash with a fireplace truck.

“2023 was a tough year for robotaxis,” von der Ohe advised CNBC. “Technically, it’s very difficult to operate a robotaxi service. There’s not many companies out there that can do it,” he added, citing Waymo as an a uncommon instance of an organization that is getting autonomous fleets proper.

It additionally does not work out from a value perspective, von der Ohe added, saying: “If they become available, they have to be priced at Uber prices.”

“Right now, they’re far away from that efficiency in terms of operational costs and capex costs,” he mentioned.

“These are challenges that they have we come at in a completely contrarian way. It’s not we say they’re doing it wrong or we do it better, we just do it different,” he mentioned, including that Vay will provide a service that is rather a lot cheaper than ride-hailing.