Vay’s new service is a combination of taxi and car sharing. Its operations are limited to a part of Hamburg for now, but the company’s plans are international.
Drivers in Berlin and Hamburg are already familiar with the remote-controlled Kia Niro with the inscription Vay on the door. The German start-up has been testing its remote-controlled cars in these cities for the third year. Only now, however, has he obtained permission from the authorities that a driver is not necessarily behind the wheel, who will take over in an emergency. In the residential neighborhood of Bergedorf in the eastern part of Hamburg, Vay cars can be driven alone in a trial.
Vay combines the benefits of car-sharing rates with the convenience of a taxi service. The electric car is ordered using the mobile application: the empty car arrives at the agreed place, where the customer himself drives it to the destination. At the end of the trip, the rental car leaves on its own. It is the first time ever that a car without people has been driving on European roads.
The reason the authorities allow the car to move in normal traffic without a driver is because there is already a driver present at every moment of its journey. He’s not sitting directly behind the wheel, but at Vay’s corporate headquarters. However, he has the same environment as if he was sitting in a real car. This includes haptic response to buttons on the instrument panel and resistance to the accelerator and brake pedals.
The essential difference is that he does not monitor the traffic around him through the windows of the Kia Niro, but through a system of screens that, thanks to the panoramic cameras in the car, offer him an unobstructed view in all directions. There are also microphones in the car that transmit ambient noise at a distance to the driver. Which is important, for example, in the event that an ambulance is approaching the car.
“With our electric car service, fewer vehicles can transport more people. This will leave more living space in cities,” says startup founder Thomas von der Ohe. “We are trying to reduce the high cost of commuting while increasing road safety.”
However, the idea of remote-controlled cars would essentially save money for the car-sharing company itself. Its cars are always there where there is interest in them, moreover they are monitored at all times, which minimizes the risk of them being damaged.
The advantage for the customer is also obvious: the car is available at the place of his choice, and he does not have to look for a parking space at the destination. He just gets off, like he would in a taxi.
The startup aims to be cheaper than Bolt or Uber services. This is undoubtedly the key to the company’s success, because unlike the competition, when driving with Vay, you must have a driver’s license and be alert.
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