It wasn’t long ago that Tesla CEO Elon Musk talked about the company developing robotaxis generating additional revenue for the company. It caused some raised eyebrows, but Hyundai Motor Group and Motional must have been on board as they just rolled out the Ioniq 5 robotaxi.
Not surprisingly, it’s based around Hyundai’s new all-electric Ioniq 5, which debuted earlier this year. The robotaxi is an SAE Level 4 autonomous vehicle, according to the two companies, meaning it can operate safely without a driver.
Motional, which is a joint venture between Hyundai and Aptiv, plans to carry passengers in 2023 through its partnership with Lyft. The pair have been testing autonomous taxis in Las Vegas since 2017. The pair will expand that to other cities. The service did shut down temporarily in 2020 due to the pandemic. However, after making required updates, the service resumed last October.
The latest robotaxi
The Ioniq 5 robotaxi uses a technology-driven design allowing for it to integrate the necessary components for autonomous driving. The vehicle’s sensor suite is prominently displayed across the exterior, easily distinguishing the robotaxi from human piloted vehicles.
It relies on more than 30 sensors — a combination of cameras, radars, and lidar — to develop “360-degree perception, high-resolution images, and ultra-long range detection of objects for safe autonomous operation in diverse driving environments,” according to Hyundai.
The robotaxi will be outfitted with Motional’s driverless technology, which includes advanced machine learning systems — trained on decades of real-world data — that enables the vehicle to safely navigate challenging and complex driving situations, the automaker noted.
Not alone in developing the technology
Hyundai and Motional aren’t the only companies looking to develop the technology for robotaxis. Waymo’s been running its Waymo One service around parts of Phoenix for a couple of years now.
The company’s been using primarily specially outfitted Chrysler Pacifica minivans to cart current enrollees in Waymo One around town. Eventually, the company will expand the service area and allow the pubic to get a ride whenever they want, using its smart-phone app.
Current coverage area is about 50 square miles of Phoenix. However, the company is planning to expand the services, allowing for more riders in one vehicle, and covering a bigger area. This will also call for the company to add a service driver in the event of an issue.
General Motors’ Cruise subsidiary is attempting to follow suit, recently getting approval to begin testing its self-driving Chevy Bolt EV on the streets of San Francisco with passengers on board.In all, eight companies have been authorized to deploy completely driverless vehicles in California, but Cruise has become the first that will be able to drive passengers as a prelude to setting up a ride-sharing service. For now, the company will not be allowed to charge those passengers.