Testing a robotaxi along the strip in Vegas with the drunken crowds and bright lights and occasional escaped lion seems like a natural fit. If they can handle that, other cities should be a breeze.
Uber is making robotaxis available to its customers to hail in Las Vegas, which will be operated by Motional as part of a 10-year deal. As is always the case with these types of stories, the so-called robotaxis (so we’re just going with this name?) will feature safety drivers behind the steering wheel to make sure the car doesn’t careen into the jets at the Bellagio or something. But the vehicle will still be operated by Motional’s autonomous driving system.
Do you tip the safety driver? Can you offer them a drink? Do they talk? Time will tell.
Motional is a joint venture between Hyundai and Aptiv, and follows the launch of autonomous deliveries with Uber Eats in Greater Los Angeles. There will be no fares for passengers as of yet, and Motional says it plans to ditch the safety chaperones sometime in 2023.
Motional currently has a similar deal with Uber’s main competitor, Lyft, but not one with the gondolas in the canal in front of the Venetian. There are plans to expand next to another sunny city where it rarely rains, Los Angeles.
“Today, Motional becomes the first AV company to conduct all-electric autonomous rides on the Uber network for public passengers,” said Akshay Jaising, Motional’s Vice President of Commercialization.
“Las Vegas is the first of many cities in which Motional’s AVs will become an everyday transportation option for Uber customers looking for a safe and convenient ride.”
Those requesting a ride will be be offered an autonomous vehicle, and if they confirm a self-driving Hyundai Ioniq 5 mid-sized hatchback will show up, with two safety monitors inside, and plenty of Uber-patented awkward conversation.
Source: The Verge