Autonomous vehicle company Motional – a US$4bn joint venture between Hyundai and Aptiv – and ridesharing firm Lyft will begin offering fully driverless public ride-hail services in Las Vegas in 2023.
The service, which will use robotaxis based on the all-electric Hyundai IONIQ 5, will be available via the Lyft app. The deployment is part of a landmark partnership between Motional and Lyft announced last year, with further cities to follow.
The service will be the first time fully driverless cars for use as part of a ride-hailing service are available to the public in Nevada. Launched by Aptiv in 2018 and now as Motional, the company has operated a public self-driving service with Lyft in Las Vegas for over three years.
The 2023 deployment represents a significant expansion, will use Motional’s next-generation robotaxi, and will be the first time passengers experience a fully driverless Lyft and Motional ride. With plans to launch in multiple markets, the service is also designed to be scalable and positions both Motional and Lyft to introduce millions of riders to driverless technology in the future.
Motional’s president and CEO, Karl Iagnemma, said the announcement marks an important milestone between the two companies. “Motional and Lyft pioneered collaboration between the ride-hail and driverless industries, and are now laying the foundation for large-scale deployments of driverless robotaxis,” said Iagnemma. “We look forward to beginning this next chapter in Las Vegas, and then quickly scaling to other markets across the Lyft network.”
“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,” added Lyft co-founder and CEO Logan Green. “We can’t wait for riders in Las Vegas to be the first to summon fully driverless cars on the Lyft platform.”
The journey to a 2023 launch
Motional and Lyft are collaborating closely in the lead-up to the 2023 commercial launch, doubling up on all aspects of the deployment and rider experience. This includes transporting passengers via Motional’s next-generation robotaxi, the IONIQ 5 robotaxi, starting in the second half of 2022. During this initial phase, riders will experience their end-to-end journey autonomously, including entering the vehicle, starting their ride and requesting support. This will allow Motional and Lyft to gain rider feedback, refine the user experience to be as intuitive as possible, and more.
The IONIQ 5 robotaxi was developed through strategic collaboration between Motional and Hyundai, is built to safely operate without a driver, and comes with enhanced safety and reliability features. It will be Motional’s second vehicle to operate without a driver on public roads, making the company one of very few industry leaders operating a second-gen driverless platform.
Integrating driverless vehicles onto a ride-hailing network and effectively deploying them is an inherently complex process that requires deep collaboration between the robotaxi fleet provider (Motional) and the network (Lyft). As operators of the world’s most established public self-driving service (Las Vegas; 2018-present), Motional and Lyft have over three years of experience optimizing this service, which represents a unique advantage in the driverless industry, according to both companies.
Las Vegas presents an exciting opportunity as the first city in Motional and Lyft’s multimarket driverless deployment. The dynamic city receives over 40 million visitors annually and is home to some of the world’s largest entertainment, business and trade events. Motional’s robotaxis will provide safe and reliable transportation to these millions of visitors and Las Vegas community members.