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Uber and Motional launch robotaxi service in Las Vegas londonbusinessblog.com

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Uber and Motional, the Hyundai-Aptiv joint venture focused on commercializing self-driving technology, have launched a robotaxi service in Las Vegas — the first step in the companies’ 10-year plan to scale together to major North American towns. announced in October.

While Motional has already launched similar services in Las Vegas on both the Lyft and Via networks, this is Uber’s first time offering autonomous rides to the public. It comes a year after Motional and Uber partnered to test autonomous delivery in Santa Monica, California, which is still ongoing.

Los Angeles will be Uber and Motional’s second launch city “at a later date,” according to Motional. California has much stricter regulations than Nevada, and Motional is shy of a few permits to operate a service to the public in the state. So far, the AV company is only licensed by the California Department of Motor Vehicles to test its AVs with a safety driver, and has applied for a driverless test permit.

In Vegas, Motional’s IONIQ 5 electric robotaxis should be available on UberX and Uber Comfort Electric. The company wouldn’t share how many vehicles will be allocated for Uber rides around the city, but a spokesperson told londonbusinessblog.com the robotaxis can be hailed at “high-traffic and popular destinations along the Las Vegas Strip” and will operate during the day. initial.

"Learn more about your autonomous vehicle ride"

Image Credits: Motional

Human safety operators will initially be in the vehicles, but Motional and Uber hope to begin driverless operations in 2023. As with Motional’s other partnerships, the robotaxi service with Uber will initially be free while the companies collect user feedback.

Partnering with Uber follows Motional’s commercialization strategy of leveraging existing ride-share platforms. Rather than building out its own app and service, it makes more sense to focus on what Motional does best—building the autonomy stack—and taking its technology to where riders already are, according to Akshay Jaising, Motional’s VP of commercialization.

Uber appears to be following a similar path. After launching its own self-driving unit, Uber ATG, in 2015, the company finally sold it to Aurora in 2020. The cost of building and testing the technology was too high and the risk to Uber’s reputation too great, especially after one of Uber’s test AVs (with a human safety operator behind the wheel) hit and killed a pedestrian.

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