Vay launches ‘driverless’ service in U.S., but there’s a catch

Credit: Vay

Vay, a German startup, has launched a “driverless” service in the United States, but there’s a catch.

Vay announced on Wednesday that its service has already launched in Las Vegas, Nevada, but it is not completely free of human control. Instead, Vay uses what it calls “teledriving,” which enables people to hail vehicles for rides in vehicles controlled by people who operate the car in a remote space.

The car is delivered to the person who called for it without a driver. Then, the person who called for the car can drive it to their destination.

When the person who called for the ride is done with the trip, they can choose in the Vay app to let one of the teledrivers take over and then park the car. The teledriver then drives the car back to its original location.

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

It has already performed tests on public roads in Europe and the U.S. with remote drivers. It is still trying to work through regulatory hurdles in both markets.

Today, Vay launched its driverless mobility service in Las Vegas, and it’s a major milestone in the development of the tech, which has gone on for five years.

von der Ohe said:

“After five years of developing our technology, we are bringing our vision to life in Las Vegas. Our convenient, affordable, and sustainable door-to-door mobility service aims to free cities from parked cars and make them more liveable and greener.”

It launched early access rides in Las Vegas in November, but now it is open to anyone within the UNLV and Arts District area.

Pricing Strategy

The service is operated on a “per-minute rental” pricing strategy. Users only pay for the time they use the car. Initially, Vay is charging $0.30 per minute and $0.03 per minute for stopovers.

A Different Approach from Tesla

Tesla has looked to launch a Robotaxi service for several years, and while it hasn’t gotten there quite yet, it has not veered away from its goal of offering a completely driverless ride-hailing platform.

Vay is using remote drivers to get cars to their customer and back to its original location. Those who call the car for a ride drive the vehicle themselves to their destination. It takes the struggle of parking out of the equation.

Early-access users said the pricing was an advantage, and it was nice to be able to travel at their own pace.

Vay’s strategy takes the freedom and independence of having a ride without a driver and couples it with the safety and certainty of a real-world operator. While autonomous driving is still in its early stages, there are certainly risks, as we saw with Cruise in its limited operation in San Francisco in 2023.

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Vay launches ‘driverless’ service in U.S., but there’s a catch
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