Lyft Unleashing Self-Driving Robotaxis Onto US Streets

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Driverless robotaxis will become a reality sooner than you think.

As autonomous technology continues to advance, the vision of self-driving cars roaming the streets is getting closer to becoming a reality. Tesla's full self-driving beta will soon get a wider release and the Amazon-owned company Zoox unveiled a new self-driving robotaxi this week with no steering wheel or reverse function.

However, Zoox did not announce when its new robotaxi service will launch. Lyft, on the other hand, is one step ahead. As part of a new partnership with driverless technology company Motional backed by Activ and Hyundai, the two companies will launch a driverless robotaxi service using the Lyft network in 2023 in multiple US cities.

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The announcement comes after Motional was granted permission to test self-driving cars without a safety operator on public roads in Nevada, Las Vegas last month. This marks the first time a rideshare company and driverless technology provider have partnered for a ride-hailing service. Motional will develop and manage the fleet of driverless cars based on a Hyundai platform, while Lyft will power the rideshare network and rider experience. Each robotaxi will be equipped with sensors, computers, and software to enable driverless operation and remote vehicle assistance.

"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 Karl Iagnemma, President and CEO, Motional.

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"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."

Lyft and Motional haven't announced which cities will be offered the robotaxi service initially. After the robotaxi service launches in 2023, there are plans to expand the network to other cities. Motional also says its fleet size "will grow significantly."

To improve consumer's confidence in self-driving cars, Motional and Lyft have been trialing a commercial robotaxi fleet in Las Vegas with a human safety driver on board for nearly three years. Using BMW 5 Series taxis with lidar sensors, radars, and cameras, the service has delivered over 100,000 autonomous rides.

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