Lyft and autonomous vehicles company Motional have begun a public robotaxi service in Las Vegas.
Motional’s autonomous Ioniq 5’s will be added to Lyft’s service, with riders being given the option of hailing an autonomous ride.
The service will not require jumping through any special hoops, and the rides are currently free.
“The service is open to the public,” Motional VP of commercialization Akshay Jaising told The Verge. “Any Lyft rider in Las Vegas can request a Motional AV. No NDAs. No sign-ups. That’s how Motional and Lyft have operated for the past four years. We believe the best feedback is from real riders, not employees or limited participants.”
For now, safety drivers will still be present behind the wheel in case of any complications, but the service expects to go fully autonomous in 2023 and then expand into other US cities, the Motional said in a statement.
Any Lyft rider in Vegas can request the robotaxis. Safety drivers will still be present behind the wheel in case of any complications, but the service expects to go fully autonomous in 2023.
Designed to be driverless: While the safety drivers will be there at first, Motional and Lyft are switching on the cars’ entire suite of fully autonomous features.
Unlike many driverless cars in testing, the Ioniq 5 isn’t an existing model made into an autonomous vehicle; rather, it was built from the axle-up for the job by Motional’s parent company, Hyundai.
Customized features for Lyft riders include hailing the car and unlocking the door via the app, as well as a passenger display in the backseat to begin the ride or contact customer service, features informed by “extensive research and feedback from real riders to maximize their comfort and ease of use,” the company said.
Cruising the strip: Motional, a joint venture of Hyundai and Irish-American automotive tech firm Aptiv, has been testing autonomous vehicles in Vegas for four years, The Verge reports.
Since beginning with a weeklong pilot program between Lyft and Aptiv at CES 2018, they’ve completed 100,000 passenger trips.
“We’ve led the industry in commercial operations for years, and today’s launch signals we’re on track to deliver a fully driverless service next year,” Karl Iagnemma, Motional’s president and CEO, said in a statement.
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