Motional and Lyft Choose Las Vegas for 2023 Robotaxi Launch
After several years of collaborating with one another and mapping out the city of Las Vegas, Nevada, Motional is ready to come out with an autonomous robotaxi service in 2023. The $4 billion joint venture between Hyundai and Aptiv first started testing its autonomous technology in Las Vegas roughly four years ago with some help from Lyft. With the recent news, it looks like all of the hard work has paid off.
Robotaxis Coming In 2023
The autonomous vehicles will be provided by Motional and automotive supplier Aptiv. The cars will be based on a platform from Hyundai. Consumers will be able to hail an autonomous robtaxi using Lyft's ride-sharing network. While the service will go into full swing in 2023, Motional and Lyft want to begin giving Lyft users ride in an autonomous vehicle as early as the second half of 2022. At the beginning, the service will utilize the Hyundai Ioniq 5 electric hatchback that has been upgraded with autonomous technology. Lyft won't be charging consumers for rides in the beginning, though.
At the moment, Motional's test fleet includes a large amount of BMW 5-Series sedans. These will be swapped out in favor of the electric Ioniq 5s starting next year. Motional will continue to complete testing on the vehicles and collect the necessary data before launching its full service in 2023.
The decision to launch a fully autonomous robotaxi service in 2023 doesn't come out of thin air for Motional. The company started testing vehicles without a human safety driver behind the wheel earlier this February. Aptiv and Hyundai, though, having been testing vehicles as early as 2018 when it launched a one-week program in Las Vegas to test an autonomous taxi service during CES.
It's Been A Long Time Coming
Last November, Nevada gave Motional the go-ahead to test autonomous vehicles without a safety driver behind the wheel. Two months ago, Motional announced that it was expanding its operations and number of employees in Las Vegas. Additionally, it decided to trip the size of its testing facility.
At the moment, Motional isn't ready to share the number of robotaxis it will launch in Las Vegas in 2023. The company plans to share information on specifics at a later date. We also expect to get more information on other cities down the road. Motional recently announced plans to expand its presence in California with a new Los Angeles facility. The company also announced that it was looking to launch commercially in major cities in the U.S. in 2023.
Motional isn't alone in planning to introduce an autonomous robotaxi service. Quite a few other companies are looking to do the same thing. General Motors' subsidiary Cruise launched a similar taxi service in San Francisco, though this is reserved for employees and a few members of the public. Uber was testing autonomous taxis around the country, but that part of the business was sold to Aurora last December. Waymo's driverless taxi service went online to the public in Phoenix, Arizona last October.
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