In certain parts of America, you will soon be able to order a driverless Uber.
Motional is making great strides in the driverless taxi sphere, with the Hyundai-owned company partnering with Uber to provide a driverless taxi service in cities across America. The agreement will see the deployment of Motional's autonomous Hyundai Ioniq 5 taxis on the Uber network, with the first trips expected to kick off later this year.
Both companies envision AVs as safe, convenient, and affordable ways to travel around town.
"This agreement will be instrumental to the wide-scale adoption of robotaxis...Motional now has unparalleled access to millions of riders and a roadmap to scale significantly over the next ten years. We're proud to partner with Uber to bring both driverless ride-hail and deliveries to life in cities throughout the US," said Motional CEO Karl Iagnemma.
Uber and Motional have previously collaborated on a delivery project. Earlier this year, Motional started conducting driverless food delivery for Uber Eats users in California. Customers have responded positively, prompting the companies to expand the autonomous service to more restaurants.
But shuffling meals around is a different story from carrying passengers. While autonomous technology is incredible, there are still some kinks that need to be worked out. Rival company Cruise has faced several hiccups this year, and the company made headlines when one of its vehicles was involved in a car crash.
Motional isn't a newcomer to this burgeoning sector, though. In August, the company announced it would offer a driverless taxi service in Las Vegas through the Lyft platform. While the vehicle drives itself, two safety operators are still on standby in this instance.
Uber's Global Head of Autonomous Mobility and Delivery, Noah Zych, said the mobility company is excited about this new development. "We're excited to leverage the power of Uber's platform to bring Motional's advanced autonomous technology to a wide range of riders at the push of a button...shared autonomous vehicles will play [an important role] in the future of transportation."
The company will use data-driven insights to "efficiently allocate and position" Motional's driverless vehicles. This will curb unnecessary driving and energy wastage, and reduce vehicle downtime to ensure more customers are served. The enhanced operation will lead to reduced waiting times and lower fares for clients and increased profits for the companies.
With this announcement, Motional and Uber become the first to offer both autonomous rides and delivery in the industry. If you're interested in taking a ride in one of these vehicles, the Motional Ioniq 5 robotaxis will be made available on UberX and Uber Comfort Electric, but for select markets only.
Motional won't have the market to itself, though. GM-backed Cruise already has operational service in San Francisco and will soon expand to Phoenix and Houston. The self-driving Chevrolet Bolt electric vehicles will make their way to these areas before year-end. Very soon, the autonomous vehicle will be a normal sighting on the streets of densely populated American cities.