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Motional and Lyft launched an autonomous ride-hailing service in Las Vegas last week. Motional rolled out its all-electric IONIQ 5-based autonomous vehicle (AV) for public use for the first time. To start, the vehicles will have human safety drivers behind the wheel in case something goes wrong. The companies said they plan to begin fully driverless ride-hailing services in Las Vegas in 2023 before scaling to other cities.
Motional’s IONIQ 5 AV is the first all-electric AV in Lyft’s network. The company worked directly with its parent company, Hyundai, to design the IONIQ 5 specifically as a driverless ride-hail vehicle. The all-electric mid-size crossover is powered by a 77.4 kWh battery system.
The vehicles can be hailed using the Lyft app, which riders can use to unlock the vehicle’s doors when it pulls up. Riders can take their time getting settled, and press a button on the app to tell the car they’re ready to start the trip.
The IONIQ 5 AV is equipped with app touch screens mounted behind each front row seat. This screen will confirm passenger details and provide real-time ride information. Below the screens are three hard keys that riders can use to start the ride or call customer support.
“Motional and Lyft have a clear path to widespread commercialization of Level 4 autonomous vehicles,” Karl Iagnemma, Motional’s president and CEO, said. “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. Riders in Las Vegas can now experience Motional’s IONIQ 5 AV that will make that service a reality. Through our strategic partnership with Hyundai, the IONIQ 5 AV is fully customized for driverless ride-hail operation, while maintaining the vehicle’s award-winning comfort and design.”
Motional and Lyft have been working together to test AV technology in Las Vegas since 2018. So far, over 100,000 riders have been introduced to autonomous technology, and 95% of customers have left five-star reviews for the vehicles.
“Launching Motional’s all-electric IONIQ 5 on Lyft’s network in Las Vegas represents tremendous progress in our vision to make an electric, autonomous, and shared future a reality for people everywhere,” Logan Green, Lyft’s CEO and co-founder, said. “Building an experience that Lyft riders love is core to advancing this technology, and today’s launch provides riders access to Motional’s autonomous technology in a way that will feel seamless, familiar, and personalized, all on a network they already trust. We are designing an autonomous experience where the only expectation for riders is to relax and enjoy the ride.”
Earlier this year, Motional began deliveries with Uber Eats in Santa Monica, CA. There, Motional’s autonomous vehicles have to operate with a safety driver in them, according to the permit the company has from the California Department of Motor Vehicles (DMV).