First Robotaxis Coming to L.A.
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Drivers in Los Angeles, California will soon find themselves sharing the road more frequently with driverless cars.
Test cars operated by artificial intelligence have been a familiar sight on the streets of the Bay Area for a while now. The cars stand out and are easy to spot with their spinning lidar array on the car’s roof.
But seeing robot cars in the southern parts of California is not a daily occurrence for drivers there right now, and that’s about to change. According to the Los Angeles Times autonomous vehicle company, Motional, recently announced plans to begin testing robotaxis around L.A.
Artificial intelligence is becoming more expansive as driverless tech is getting better and better.
Motional has big plans for driverless technology
The Boston-based company, Motional, is a collaboration between automaker Hyundai Motor Group and innovative motor parts technology provider Aptiv.
The two companies make a powerful match as they work together to develop and introduce new driverless software systems. Motional’s global operations span across the United States as well as Asia.
Motional’s latest expansion on the U.S.’s West Coast includes adding engineering autonomous vehicle specialists as well as research and development resources. Testing driverless vehicles on the streets of L.A. is also part of the plan.
Robotaxi testing will be facilitated by trained test drivers to ensure safety and address challenges. But commuters are going to have to wait to take a driverless taxi ride.
The robot cars won’t be picking up any passengers until all the testing is done and regulators deem the technology ready for commercial use.
What can we expect from robotaxis?
The robotaxis people will see on the colorful streets of LA are the all-electric Hyundai Ioniq 5s. The Motional Ioniq 5 will be equipped with numerous sensors including radar, lidar, and cameras which enables a 360-degree view around the robotaxi.
The Hyundai Ioniq 5 is a compact all-electric SUV scheduled to hit the U.S. market this winter. South Korea’s Hyundai sees the breakthrough crossover as an anticipated introduction to the exclusively electric series it has planned for the future.
Unlike the consumer version of the electric midsize SUV, the Motional Ioniq 5 is driverless-ready. It integrates the car itself along with various sensors and an innovative software system. Driverless technology is complex, but Motional is propelling it forward.
Robotaxi technology and services aren’t new
In 2017, Motional partnered with ride-sharing company Lyft to offer robotaxi services to consumers in Las Vegas. The service turned out to be a huge success with over 100,000 safe rides given to date, according to TechCrunch.
Lyft has announced plans to start and operate its own robotaxi service by 2023.
The fast-developing autonomous driving world is not without its competition. Companies including Argo AI, Zoox, and Google’s self-driving car company Waymo are also exploring driverless technology and how to commercially apply it.
Getting where you want to go didn’t just get more interesting, robotaxis will also be driving the public into a greener future. Besides Las Vegas, Motional is testing cars in Boston, Singapore, and Pittsburgh. So Motional’s plans for expansion on America’s West Coast aren’t surprising.
The technology-filled state of California offers a talented workforce and the challenge of a vibrant, often congested, transportation culture. Soon robotaxis with their rooftop whirling sensors might be a familiar sight in a neighborhood near you.
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