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HomeUncategorizedLyft and Motional's all-electric robo-taxi service is now live in Las Vegas

Lyft and Motional's all-electric robo-taxi service is now live in Las Vegas

A new self-driving taxi service has officially launched in Las Vegas for public use. It is run by Lyft and a self-driving car company called Motional and is the prelude to a fully driverless service that will launch in the city in 2023.

Motional, a joint venture between Hyundai and Aptiv, has been testing its self-driving cars in Las Vegas through a partnership with Lyft for more than four years . The test began with a week-long pilot between Aptiv and Lyft during the 2018 annual CES, and has since completed more than 100,000 passenger trips.

Today, the two companies announced the public launch of the service, marking the first time customers can ride in the company’s autonomous, all-electric Hyundai Ioniq 5 vehicle modified for commercial operation. If something goes wrong, the safety driver will stay behind the wheel, similar to other self-driving taxi services that have been rolled out over the years. But Motional and Lyft say fully driverless vehicles will join the service next year.

Unlike other robo-taxi services in the US, Motional and Lyft do not require potential riders to sign up for a waitlist or sign a non-disclosure agreement to join the beta testing program. The rides will be free ; The companies plan to start charging for the service next year.

“The service is open to the public,” Akshay Jaising, Motional’s vice president of commercialization, said in an email. “Any Lyft rider in Las Vegas can apply for Motional AV. No nondisclosure agreement. No registration. This is how Motional and Lyft have worked for the past four years. We believe the best feedback comes from real riders, not employees or Limited participants.”

Customers looking to ride in Motional’s self-driving cars will have access to a new set of features that make the service unique within Lyft’s legacy vehicle network. For example, customers will be able to unlock their car doors through the Lyft app. Once inside, they will be able to start a ride or contact customer support through the new in-vehicle Lyft AV app on the in-vehicle touchscreen.

Motional and Lyft say the new features are backed by “extensive research and feedback from real riders to maximize their comfort and ease of use” .” The two companies are now offering new user features to the public in preparation for the service’s plans to be fully driverless next year.

Motional says it has a permit to conduct “fully driverless testing” anywhere in Nevada. The companies said they would obtain the proper licenses to begin commercial rides with passengers before the fully driverless vehicle rolls out in 2023.

Motional first announced in March 2020 that Hyundai said it would spend $1.6 billion to go after rivals in the self-driving car space, and formerly Delphi ) technology company Aptiv, which owns 50% of the joint venture. The company currently has factories in Las Vegas, Singapore and Seoul, and has tested its vehicles in Boston and Pittsburgh.

Currently, only a small fraction of autonomous vehicle operators have actually deployed fully driverless vehicles, also known as Level 4, on public roads Self-driving cars. Alphabet’s self-driving unit Waymo has been operating its Level 4 vehicles in suburban Phoenix, Arizona, for years and is seeking permission to do so in San Francisco. Cruise, a majority-owned subsidiary of General Motors, provides commercial service in self-driving cars in San Francisco, but only at night.

Meanwhile, Lyft is positioning itself as a platform where customers in cities across the country can schedule rides in self-driving cars. Last year, the ride-hailing company sold its AV research and development division to a Toyota subsidiary. Since then, Lyft has struck deals with Motional, Waymo and Argo, the self-driving company backed by Ford and Volkswagen. Motional isn’t the only company using Sin City as a base for its robo-taxi business. Zoox, an Amazon subsidiary, is also testing its self-driving cars in Las Vegas.

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