Qibus Is the Driverless Car Technology We’ve Been Waiting For

Founder Leanid Tsurankou at Pebble Beach during Concours d’Elegance (Photo by Kai Photography)

Say goodbye to rideshare drivers who don’t respect your desire for a conversation-free ride. Say hello to an empty driver’s seat, minus the concerns of a computer steering the wheel.

A driverless future has been on the road map for years, especially in the Bay Area, where self-driving cars have been testing on our streets for more than a decade. But Qibus is no robot — it’s driverless technology where the driver can be thousands of miles away, driving the car using a remote steering wheel, foot pedals and monitor screens.

“I thought, ‘What if we keep the driver?’ ” says Qibus founder and CEO Leanid Tsurankou. “If the computer is incapable of dealing with the unpredictability of the real world, what if we keep the driver?”

Tsurankou dove into this industry after hardship in his own life: he endured a three-month effort to regain basic mobility after a motorcycle accident. Having always been a car person, Tsurankou struggled with losing the autonomy of driving: “Getting into an Uber would take me 30 minutes without experiencing pain. It took me more than a year to recover, so I had time to think.”

Having been an engineer before this, Tsurankou pivoted to a Self-Driving Operations role at Uber ATG. Seeing the bigger picture through an operations lens, he realized the reality of self-driving cars being widely available is much further away than we think. “I was motivated to do something about it and bring it to the people, versus just some idea of the future where every car is going to be driverless.”

In a few short years, Qibus now has remote-driven cars operating in California and parts of Europe and will soon operate in the United Arab Emirates. Here in the U.S., they’re partnering with businesses — like car dealerships — to implement the technology. Rather than needing two cars and two drivers to make an auto delivery, just one driver can drop off a car at an owner’s home, have a Qibus-operated car follow, and get back to the dealership in the Qibus car.

Just like with other driverless cars, it’s natural to be nervous about having no one behind the wheel. But Qibus is passing all the tests that come its way, including driving VIP cars at the Pebble Beach Concours d’Elegance 2023 — an event with thousands of attendees, hundreds of other cars on the road and out-of-the-ordinary traffic flows. “I said if we can pull this off there is nothing we can’t do,” Tsurankou says. And pull it off they did, with drivers operating from an office in Europe, 6,000 miles away.

Having a remote driver is already a reality on our roads with Qibus, and Tsurankou wants to make it a possibility for every car out there. The required equipment is affordable compared to other self-driving tech (around $3,000 plus a monthly subscription), easy and quick to install, and doesn’t add a crazy amount of hardware to bulk up your ride. Driverless cars are here to stay — but now it seems the driver is, too.