The Hyundai-backed company has had to cut jobs.
Hyundai-backed autonomous vehicle startup Motional has cut its workforce this week, reports TechCrunch. This news comes barely a month after the Ford- and Volkswagen-backed Argo AI was forced to shut down due to costs and is indicative of a broader downturn in the tech sector, which has been seeing numerous layoffs in recent months.
What was once seen as the "next big thing" in the auto industry now appears to be a bottomless pit for investors, who seem to be losing patience with the slow rate of progress in autonomous vehicle technology.
Motional has not confirmed how many employees will be affected by this measure or where the cuts will be focused.
"Motional recently announced steps to reallocate resources to areas of the company that will help ensure long-term commercial success," a company spokesperson told TC in an emailed statement. "As the organization evolves, we will continue to hire the critical talent needed to develop our technology and meet our commitments to our partners."
The company added that it is providing severance packages to affected employees and helping them find new positions elsewhere. But finding another job in autonomous vehicle technology could be tricky, as other startups in the industry have also cut jobs, like Nuro, which laid off around 20% of its workforce last month.
Since 2019, the autonomous vehicle technology sector appeared to be gaining momentum, and things have looked positive in 2022 as well, especially for Motional. Just two months ago, a self-driving Hyundai Ioniq 5 joined Uber's driverless fleet, while other such vehicles equipped with Motional's technology were introduced in Las Vegas for driverless tours of the city. So why are things falling apart in this sector?
Motional did not provide a reason for the "reallocation of resources," but Argo had financial trouble, and others like Aurora Innovation are desperately trying to raise funds by selling some of their technology.
We hate to be cynical, but it seems that autonomous technology may yet be many years - if not decades - away.