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Self-driving vehicle firm opens Las Vegas hub

Updated December 18, 2018 - 1:03 pm

A large-scale autonomous vehicle operator now has a centralized location to carry out its self-driving program.

Aptiv opened a 130,000-square-foot facility near McCarran International Airport that will serve as the hub for its self-driving vehicle operations, research and development, data management and technology, the company announced Monday.

The Las Vegas building is the company’s fourth major hub, joining Boston, Pittsburgh and Singapore.

Aptiv began operations in Las Vegas last year during CES through its partnership with Lyft, picking up and dropping off riders at select locations between the Las Vegas Convention Center and the resort corridor. The service now offers rides to over 1,600 locations around the valley.

“With more than 1 million autonomous miles logged globally, Aptiv’s commercial AV pilots have proven our ability to launch, build and scale a successful, end-to-end autonomous mobility solution,” said Karl Iagnemma, president of autonomous mobility, Aptiv. “The investment in our Las Vegas technical center gives us the ability to further advance the efficiency of our operations, gather key commercial AV learnings and enhance safety operator training. We are proud to be setting the stage for future deployments as we expand to more passengers in more cities around the world.”

Autonomous Lyft rides are available for transportation around the resort corridor and to popular entertainment venues, the Las Vegas Convention Center and City Hall. Plans for additional locations, a more expansive customer base and additional uses are ongoing.

Aptiv has 70 self-driving BMWs on Las Vegas roads, with 30 involved in the Lyft program. To date, Aptiv’s vehicles have provided over 25,000 paid autonomous rides. Each autonomous vehicle is equipped with multiple sensors, cameras and computers so the system can operate and learn from each ride.

Passengers have been pleased with the service, which has received an average passenger rating of 4.95 out of five stars, Aptiv said.

“People are taking trips in the cars, and they’re happy with their experience,” Iagnemma said. “People on the Strip can pretty much get wherever they want to go in a driverless vehicle. We’ve had a number of people take our cars and come back as repeat riders.”

Although the vehicle is self-driving, a safety driver is behind the wheel at all times in case of emergency.

Las Vegas serves as an ideal spot for autonomous vehicle testing for a variety of reasons, according to Iagnemma.

Positive working relationships with government officials from local, regional and state levels, the weather and the traffic density and driving environment are ideal for self-driving programs like Aptiv.

“The operational activity of getting a fleet of autonomous vehicles on the road and keeping it on the road at high efficiency is something that very few companies around the world have a deep understanding of,” he said. “Our activity in Las Vegas has allowed us to be one of the very few companies that know how to do this.”

Contact Mick Akers at makers@reviewjournal.com or 702-387-2920. Follow @mickakers on Twitter.

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