Motional and Lyft launch robotaxi in Las Vegas

Motional and Lyft announced the launch of Motional’s new all-electric Ioniq 5-based robotaxi, an autonomous vehicle (AV) designed for fully driverless ride-hail operation, on the Lyft network in Las Vegas.

The launch is the next milestone in the lead-up to Motional and Lyft’s fully driverless service, planning to begin in 2023 and scaling to multiple US cities. This marks the first time members of the public will experience Motional’s all-electric Ioniq 5 AV, which is the first all-electric AV to debut on the Lyft network.

Fully driverless service

“Motional and Lyft have a clear path to widespread commercialisation of Level 4 autonomous vehicles,” said Karl Iagnemma, president and CEO of Motional. “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. Through our strategic partnership with Hyundai, the Ioniq 5 AV is fully customised for driverless ride-hail operation, while maintaining the vehicle’s award-winning comfort and design.”

Motional and Lyft have been conducting autonomous rides in Las Vegas since 2018, and now Lyft riders will be among the first to experience Motional’s new AV with a custom-designed user experience for a fully autonomous journey.

Motional claims this means riders are able to easily control their ride without assistance from a driver. The enhanced experience includes unlocking the doors through the Lyft app and starting the ride or contacting customer support from the new in-car Lyft AV app, an intuitive in-ride display tailored to autonomous ridesharing.

Motional reports the features are backed by extensive research and feedback from real riders to maximise their comfort and ease of use. Motional and Lyft are making the new user features available to the public now in preparation for when the service plans to be fully driverless 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,” said Logan Green, Lyft’s CEO and co-founder.

“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 personalised, 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.”

In 2018, Motional and Lyft pioneered a partnership between the AV and ridesharing industries with the launch of their public service in Las Vegas. The partners claim the service has since become the model for deploying autonomous vehicles on rideshare networks, and has introduced some 100,000 Lyft riders to autonomous technology.