Uber Launches Robotaxi Service With Motional in VegasUber Launches Robotaxi Service With Motional in Vegas
The companies plan to introduce fully driverless commercial operations to the public in 2023
December 14, 2022
Uber is offering autonomous rides to customers for the first time following the launch of its robotaxi service with Motional in Las Vegas.
In October, the ride-hailing giant and Boston-based self-driving tech company announced a major deal to deploy robotaxis across various cities in the United States over the next 10 years.
Confirmation of the commencement of operations in Vegas marks the first significant step in that plan.
Rides will be available in Motional’s self-driving version of the Hyundai Ioniq 5, which has been built from the ground up to deliver Level 4 automated functionality, as defined by the Society of Automotive Engineers.
The robotaxi – which is already available for ride-hailing in Vegas via Lyft and Via – is fitted with a suite of more than 30 sensors, including lidar, radar and cameras. These deliver full 360-degree perception and 300-meter range detection of objects to ensure safe operation.
To hail an Ioniq 5 via Uber in Vegas, riders simply visit the app and select UberX or Uber Comfort Electric. If a vehicle is available, Uber will match the rider to it and they will receive an offer to opt in before the autonomous trip is confirmed and dispatched to pick them up. The service will be free at first.
It’s not yet been revealed how many robotaxis will be available on the Uber fleet initially, but the service will be available in high-traffic locations – including the strip – and operate during the day.
It will launch with human operators, but according to Uber and Motional, the intention is to introduce fully driverless commercial operations to the public in 2023.
Although it is the first time the pair have partnered to offer autonomous rides to passengers, they have been working together on automated food delivery services in Santa Monica, Los Angeles via Uber Eats since May this year.
And that local knowledge may serve them well because they have already signaled their intent to expand the robotaxi offering to LA “at a later date,” although Motional does not yet have the requisite permits to run a commercial service in California.
Akshay Jaising, Motional’s vice president of commercialization, hailed the start of operations in Vegas, saying: “It’s a testament to our technology and the power of our partnership with Uber that we’re able to go from concept to consumer in such a short time. Las Vegas is the first of many cities in which Motional’s AVs will become an everyday transportation option for Uber customers looking for a safe and cheap ride.”
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