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Uber partners with Motional for robotic axis

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Uber Thursday announced a 10-year partnership with autonomous vehicle manufacturer Motional to offer driverless rides using the company’s electric robotic axis. Motional’s IONIQ 5-based robotaxis will be available to riders who book an UberX or Uber Comfort Electric.

The move is Uber’s first step into robotaxis within its rideshare segment since the company sold its own self-driving unit, Advanced Technologies Group, to Aurora in December 2020. The first trips with Motional’s robotaxis are expected later this year, although there is no word. about where the service will be offered.

Already a strong relationship, Uber and Motional entered into a food delivery partnership earlier this year in Santa Monica, California, where some Eats orders are delivered by the IONIQ robotic axis.

Uber says the deal will make vehicles more readily available to users, translating into shorter wait times and lower fares. The rideshare giant says it plans to partner with multiple third-party autonomous companies as its mobility business grows, including Aurora (in which Uber has a 26 percent ownership stake).

Automotive technology supplier Aptiv and Hyundai launched Motional in 2020 as a joint venture to commercialize autonomous driving technology, hoping to overtake other competitors in the area. Thursday’s announcement marks the company’s latest high-profile rideshare partnership. Motional and Lyft launched its IONIQ 5 based robotaxis on its Uber competitor’s Las Vegas network in August. Motional also launched a robotic taxi service with Via in February for free self-driving rides in Las Vegas.

The corporate network of Hyundai IONIQ 5s, a fully electric medium crossover commercial vehicle, is integrated with the driverless system. The vehicles are equipped with level 4 autonomous driving functions, which means that the vehicle can drive itself within a geofenced area and there is no need for a person to be behind the wheel.

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