Nissan is considering building out its self-driving cars in conjunction with call centers staffed by representatives who can help the self-driving cars get out of sticky situations.

According to Wired, Nissan calls this system “teleoperation” and views it as unavoidable, at least in the short term. Weird things happen on the road and the car won’t be able to figure it all out on its own. If the car also doesn’t have a steering wheel, that leaves tele-drivers as the next best option.

On the one hand, this makes perfect sense. Wired draws an analogy to an elevator, which almost always has an emergency call button that presumably (I’ve never tried) dials somebody who can help.

The rub seems to come down to whether these call centers are staffed by representatives who only step in at critical junctures, or whether the vehicles are really “teleoperated”.

The latter doesn’t seem safe (latency being a big problem) and doesn’t seem like a big improvement over normal human driving, but it’s an interesting minimum viable product.

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