Autonomous driving developer Motional Inc. and ride-hailing provider Lyft Inc. today announced that they plan to launch a fully driverless robotic taxicab service in Las Vegas in 2023. Motional's all-electric Hyundai IONIQ 5 robotaxis will be available on the Lyft app.
Motional and Lyft announced their partnership last year and claimed that their service will be the first time fully autonomous vehicles will be available to the public. “The 2023 deployment represents a significant expansion,” said the companies, which plan to scale and launch robotaxis in multiple markets.
“Motional and Lyft pioneered collaboration between the ride-hail and driverless industries, and [they] are now laying the foundation for large-scale deployments of driverless robotaxis,” said Karl Iagnemma, president and CEO of Motional.
Motional began in 2020 as a joint venture between Hyundai Motor Group and Aptiv and is developing SAE Level 4 autonomous robotaxis. The Boston-based startup said it has set industry milestones including the first fully autonomous cross-country drive in the U.S, the world's first robotaxi pilot, and the operation of a fleet conducting over 100,000 public rides.
“Lyft’s powerful network is the ideal platform for deploying autonomous vehicles at scale. Motional’s driverless tech, combined with Lyft’s marketplace engine, brings us firmly into the self-driving future,” said Logan Green, co-founder and CEO of Lyft. “We can’t wait for riders in Las Vegas to be the first to summon fully driverless cars on the Lyft platform.”
San Francisco-based Lyft was founded in 2012 and said it has one of the largest transportation-as-a-service networks in the U.S. and Canada. The company has been working with Aptiv since 2018 and now with Motional on a public self-driving service in Las Vegas. Lyft sold Level 5, its own self-driving division, to Toyota subsidiary Woven Planet Holdings Inc. for $550 million in April.
Partners iterate toward 2023 launch
Motional and Lyft said they are working closely, iterating on all aspects of the deployment and rider/user experience (UX). This includes transporting passengers via the IONIQ 5, Motional's next-generation robotaxi, starting in the second half of 2022.
During this initial phase, riders will experience their end-to-end journeys autonomously, including entering the vehicle, starting their rides, and requesting support. The companies said this will enable them to collect rider feedback, refine the UX to be as intuitive as possible, and more.
Motional and Hyundai collaborated on the IONIQ 5, which is designed to operate safely without a driver and includes enhanced safety and reliability features. Motional said it will be its second vehicle to operate without a driver on public roads.
Motional and Lyft continue legacy in Las Vegas
The integration of Motional's robotaxis with Lyft's ride-hailing network and effectively deploying them is an inherently complex process, said the companies. Motional and Lyft said their public self-driving service is the world's most established, providing them valuable experience and a unique advantage in the driverless industry.
Las Vegas receives over 40 million visitors annually and is home to some of the world’s largest entertainment, business, and trade events, noted the companies. Motional said its robotaxis will offer safe and reliable transportation to these of visitors and Las Vegas residents.
A recent study found that more than a third of respondents expect to take a ride in a driverless vehicle within five years, and more than half think autonomous vehicles could benefit their communities, said the companies. Other robotaxi developers include AutoX, DeepRoute, Pony.ai, and WeRide.
Motional and Lyft said that multimodal ride-hail networks could provide improved and safer transportation options for millions of Americans.
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