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Ottopia, a technology company enabling remote vehicle operation, has announced a collaboration with DENSO Corporation, the world’s second largest automotive Tier 1 supplier.

“DENSO is interested in a teleoperation solution focused on safety and scalability. These are exactly the values Ottopia is committed to while building the world’s first automotive-grade teleoperation platform” says Ottopia CEO and founder Amit Rosenzweig.

It’s also just announced the launch of its Advanced Teleoperation (ATO)  that provides the ability to remotely control any type of vehicle, in a safe and secure way.

Rosenzweig told Auto Futures how it works. “It works by aggregating, compressing and sending lots of information, including 360 video stream and other sensor data, from the vehicle to a remote control center, over public cellular (and sometimes WiFi) networks. At the remote center, a human provides assistance and/or direct guidance for the vehicle. Commands from the human, eventually are translated and executed by the vehicle, whether it has a drive-by-wire system or not (if not, we offer an aftermarket kit to solve that).”

So the human touch is still a necessity – even when autonomous vehicles become a reality. 

Rosenzweig explains: “Elevators have been around for 150 years and still have an emergency button for when they fail. Parking lots have that button you can press if you need assistance from a remote human. For many years to come, autonomous vehicles will still encounter complex situations on the road which are ‘off script’ that will require human insight to solve.”

He adds: “To give a few examples: an unusual obstacle on the road, a police officer guiding traffic, a situation which requires ‘bending the rules’ a bit like going around a double-parked car and going a little over the double yellow line, roadworks or situations where the pre-mapped data doesn’t fit the real-time collected data, etc. Now, multiply these by all the different geographies and driving cultures in the world and, according to the growing industry consensus, we’re looking at a few good decades until we reach a state of ‘flawless’ autonomy that doesn’t require any human assistance.”

Rosenzweig says cyber-security is key for his company. “Imagine a malicious party takes over that control station, it literally ‘opens the door’ for hackers to take over a fleet of vehicles. That is why there must be substantial cyber-security means, engineered into the platform, and tested against every known attack vector. Only with strict cyber-security features and best practices, can any teleoperation platform become a product that is used at scale, on public roads and other geo-fenced areas. That is exactly one of the core pillars of Ottopia’s technology.”

So when will driverless cars make humans redundant? Rosenzweig thinks that time is still some way off.

“On public roads, in complex urban environments – perhaps in a couple of decades. In areas like airports, campuses, hospitals etc., probably in a couple of years, depending on the complexity of the geo-fenced operational domain.”

Ottopia will publicly demonstrate its platform during EcoMotion Week, taking place June 10 – 13 in Tel Aviv.

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