Motional Inc. and Hyundai Motor Group today announced the IONIQ 5, Motional’s next-generation robotic taxicab.
Based on the all-electric Hyundai IONIQ 5 vehicle, which launched last year, the IONIQ 5 robotaxi is an SAE Level 4 autonomous vehicle that can safely operate without a driver. The robotaxi will have zero tailpipe emissions, and the combination of electrification and autonomy could make transportation smarter, safer, and more sustainable, claimed the companies.
“This robotaxi represents Motional’s vision of a driverless future becoming a reality,” stated Karl Iagnemma, president and CEO of Motional. “Through our strategic partnership with Hyundai Motor Group and Aptiv, we have unparalleled automotive and software expertise across our entire vehicle development process.”
“This deep collaboration enables us to manufacture a robotaxi that’s both highly safe and reliable, and is cost-optimized for global production,” he said. “We’re focused on mass commercialization, and the IONIQ 5 robotaxi is built for that purpose.”
Boston-based Motional formed in March 2020 as a joint venture between Hyundai and Aptiv, a safety, electrification, and vehicle connectivity provider. The IONIQ 5 robotaxi is the company’s first commercial vehicle.
Designing the IONIQ 5 robotaxi from the ground up
Motional and Hyundai said they designed the IONIQ 5 robotaxi from the ground up to be fully driverless. The companies worked closely, with Motional's driverless technology and Hyundai's research and development capabilities and global vehicle manufacturing.
The IONIQ 5 robotaxi is built on the Electric Global Modular Platform (E-GMP), Hyundai’s dedicated battery electric vehicle (BEV) platform for fast charging and long-range driving. This will enable maximum utilization of Motional’s robotaxi fleet, according to the partners. It also includes Hyundai's safety and reliability features.
The vehicle’s sensor suite is prominently displayed across its exterior, easily distinguishing it from human-piloted vehicles, said Motional. The robotaxi has more than 30 sensors, including cameras, radars, and lidar. They will provide 360-degree perception, high-resolution images, and ultra-long-range detection of objects for safe autonomous operation in diverse driving environments, the companies said.
The robotaxi will also include Motional’s machine learning systems. They are trained on decades of real-world data and will allow the vehicle to safely navigate challenging and complex driving situations, said Motional.
“Hyundai Motor has evolved its IONIQ 5, a battery electric vehicle built on its EV-dedicated platform, into a platform for fully autonomous vehicles,” said Woongjun Jang, head of the Autonomous Driving Center at Hyundai. “For the IONIQ 5-based robotaxi, we have applied various redundancy systems, in addition to a suite of essential technologies to ensure safety and convenience of the passengers.
“By successfully integrating the Group’s IONIQ 5 robotaxi with Motional’s autonomous driving technology, we are proud to announce that we have achieved another important milestone on the road to the commercialization of our robotaxi,” he said.
Planning for a positive passenger experience
Motional and Hyundai said they have designed the IONIQ 5 robotaxi’s interior to give passengers a spacious, comfortable place to work, relax, or socialize during their driverless ride. The interior will also feature a suite of interfaces to allow riders to intuitively interact with the vehicle during their ride, such as directing the robotaxi to make an extra stop.
In addition, Motional and Hyundai said there are safety redundancies across every function, such as navigation, steering, braking, and power.
Motional also plans to provide Remote Vehicle Assistance (RVA) to the IONIQ 5 robotaxis if they encounter an unusual road scenario, such as road construction or flooding. In such an event, a remote Motional operator could instantly connect to the vehicle and direct it to a new path.
Motional to offer rides through Lyft
Motional plans to start transporting public passengers in the IONIQ 5 robotaxi in 2023 through a partnership with Lyft. The company said it has already moved hundreds of thousands of people in Las Vegas. Motional has also collaborated with Via, another ride-hailing provider.
The companies said it will use this experience to deploy IONIQ 5 robotaxis in multiple U.S. markets, “marking a turning point for driverless technology and laying the foundation for making robotaxis a global reality.”
Motional and Hyundai will show the IONIQ 5 robotaxis publicly for the first time at IAA Mobility from Sept. 7 to 12 in Munich, Germany.