In computer networking, latency is the delay in time it takes for a data packet to travel from its original source to an end destination. It plays a vital role in video streaming.
When latency starts spiking, video stream quality deteriorates. Those choppy group video calls, or badly buffering streaming movies? That’s poor latency at work.
For remote operation of logistics vehicles, ultra-low latency is an absolute must.
Remotely operated vehicles have to navigate through busy warehouse environments with often unpredictable networks. To minimize latency and enable safe remote vehicle operation, Phantom Auto’s proprietary software aggregates all available networks (LTE, WiFi, 5G and others) and dynamically adjusts to network fluctuations in real-time.
In a recent episode of The Future of Mobility podcast, Phantom Auto’s Chief Product Officer, Nils Alstad, and General Manager & Director of Product Management—Video Streaming, Torkel Danielsson, discussed the challenge of achieving ultra-low latency, and how Phantom’s remote operation technology is actually solving this very problem for customers today.
How Latency Affects Remote Operation
Attaining ultra-low latency is no easy feat.
“Multiple things can cause latency,” Danielsson said on the podcast. “There is no single thing you can do to get really low latency on a system.”
A complex chain of connected elements has to work together effectively to deliver the information to the recipient. “The trick to having a strong chain is not having a weak link,” Danielsson said.
For video streaming and remote operation, multiple cameras have to capture and digitize images that get packetized and sent over a wireless network to a computer for processing and compressing. When received, the images are decompressed and then presented to a viewer as video on a monitor.
Remote operation requires a control mechanism for operating the vehicle, like a steering wheel or joystick. Those commands need to be digitized, packetized, and delivered to the vehicle, too. All at a speed measured in milliseconds.
Phantom has created a proprietary latency measurement system to consistently check the chain for potential weak links. “When we work with and optimize these systems, we measure and we measure and we measure and we check,” Danielsson said. “You have to keep this whole loop under control.”
Phantom Auto's technology is actively deployed in multiple customer environments today.
Phantom Auto's Unique Solution
To enable safe remote vehicle operations, Phantom has adapted industry-standard video streaming protocols to optimize for streaming for distance across multiple volatile networks.
“We’ve had to go to the core basis of a lot of the components of our system,” Alstad said. "What cameras we use, what computer screen do we use, and how we build redundancy. So if one WiFi connection goes down, we can use a backup.
“And that’s the core strength of our company—we can assure connectivity and connections in places where some of our competitors may fail,” he said.
Through these optimized protocols and proprietary software that aggregates and bonds multiple network connections, Phantom creates faster, more reliable video connections that enable remote vehicle operation from up to thousands of miles away.
“We’re now able to put drivers anywhere in the world and operate vehicles.” Alstad said.
Phantom’s technology is actively deployed in multiple customer production environments today.
“There's a customer site where we are deployed, and they've tried multiple different solutions throughout the years and everything failed,” Alstad said. “We still went, and we deployed, and we optimized our system for that particular site.
“And we're able to drive multiple vehicles at that site daily today, moving thousands of pallets every single month.”
To listen to the full podcast and learn more about how ultra-low latency enables remote vehicle operation, visit the Future of Mobility podcast site.
About Phantom Auto
Phantom Auto specializes in remote operation of all logistics vehicles. Phantom’s human-centric interoperable solutions enable people to remotely supervise, assist, and drive vehicle fleets from up to thousands of miles away – including forklifts and yard trucks. By decoupling labor from location, the company increases labor access and retention, safety, productivity, and resilience across the supply chain. With Phantom, supply chain operators can tap into drivers from anywhere—connecting people who want to work with jobs that need to be filled. The company’s proprietary software delivers secure, low-latency communication over volatile wireless networks for reliable sensor streaming and safe vehicle control. For more information about Phantom, visit www.phantomauto.com.