Did Someone Call For a Robotaxi?

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Motional, a driverless technology developer, and Lyft (Nasdaq: LYFT) last week announced plans to launch a multimarket robotaxi service in major U.S. cities, beginning in 2023. Motional’s next generation, fully-driverless vehicles will be integrated, operationalized, and deployed on the Lyft network. The agreement marks the largest robotaxi deployment partnership for a major ridesharing network. It follows a three-year partnership, in which Motional and Lyft operate what they claim to be the world’s longest-standing commercial robotaxi service in Las Vegas.  

The robotaxis are based on a Hyundai vehicle platform, integrated with sensors, computers, and software to enable fully-driverless operation and remote vehicle assistance. Lyft will power the rideshare network and customer experience. The two companies said they will collaborate to ensure seamless integration of the new vehicles onto the Lyft platform, and share responsibility for fleet operations. The services will begin rolling out in 2023, with foundations laid for further expansion across the Lyft network. Launch markets will be announced at a later date. 

“This agreement is a testament to our global leadership in driverless technology. We’re at the frontier of transportation innovation, moving robotaxis from research to road,” commented Motional President/CEO Karl Iagnemma. “Our aim is to not only build safe, reliable, and accessible driverless vehicles, but to deliver them at significant scale.  We’re partnering with Lyft to do exactly that.”

“We’re thrilled to have reached this milestone laying the groundwork for Motional’s driverless vehicles deploying on the Lyft network,” said Raj Kapoor, Lyft CSO and head of business, self-driving. “This first-of-its-kind agreement is a testament to our collaborative approach for scaling self-driving vehicles in cities.”

The service the companies have tested in Las Vegas for three years has, according to their announcement, delivered over 100,000 rides, with 98 percent of passengers awarding their rides a five-star rating. The agreement follows Motional’s recently announced plans to go fully-driverless on public roads. 

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