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Motional, Lyft take next step toward fully driverless robotaxi service

Motional and Lyft are moving closer to launching their driverless robotaxi service in Las Vegas.

Motional’s new all-electric Hyundai IONIQ 5 autonomous vehicle launched in Las Vegas on Tuesday and is available for rides, with safety drivers, via the Lyft smartphone application, the company announced.

With the vehicles added to its commercial fleet, Lyft’s 2023 goal of removing safety drivers from the vehicles on the service’s platform is now within reach.

“Motional and Lyft have a clear path to widespread commercialization of Level 4 autonomous vehicles,” Karl Iagnemma, Motional’s president and CEO said in a statement. “We’ve led the industry in commercial operations for years, and today’s launch signals we’re on track to deliver a fully driverless service next year. Riders in Las Vegas can now experience Motional’s IONIQ 5 AV that will make that service a reality.”

Motional and Lyft launched their autonomous ride partnership in Las Vegas in 2018, offering rides along the Resort Corridor mainly in modified autonomous BMWs with safety drivers on board.

Motional’s new Hyundai self-driving vehicle features a custom-designed user experience enabling fully autonomous trips.

Riders can control their ride without driver assistance including unlocking the doors through the Lyft app and starting the ride. Passengers can also contact customer support from the in-vehicle Lyft AV app, which features an in-ride display created for self-driving ride hail service.

Making the new user features available to the public now, following extensive research, is in preparation for the planned fully driverless service going live next year.

“Launching Motional’s all-electric IONIQ 5 on Lyft’s network in Las Vegas represents tremendous progress in our vision to make an electric, autonomous, and shared future a reality for people everywhere,” Logan Green, Lyft’s CEO and co-founder said in a statement. “Building an experience that Lyft riders love is core to advancing this technology, and today’s launch provides riders access to Motional’s autonomous technology in a way that will feel seamless, familiar, and personalized, all on a network they already trust. We are designing an autonomous experience where the only expectation for riders is to relax and enjoy the ride.”

Motional’s Las Vegas operations center is located near Harry Reid International Airport. The company also has a test track located in Clark County, where it tests out new technologies before equipped vehicles hit area roads.

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

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