In 2023, you’ll be able to take Lyft rides in autonomous Hyundai Ioniq 5s with self-driving systems provided by Motional—as long as you live in the right city. This week, we got our first look at the sensor-bedazzled battery-electric vehicles, which add lidar, radar, and cameras to one of the best-looking new vehicles we’ve seen in some time.
Motional was created in 2020 by Hyundai Motor Group and automotive supplier Aptiv, which had been testing its level 4 autonomous vehicles in Las Vegas for years. When I rode in an autonomous Aptiv vehicle during CES in 2018, it was with a safety driver behind the wheel. But in February of this year, Motional began fully driverless testing in Las Vegas. The company said it completed over 100,000 passenger rides without incident from when it began operations to when it removed the safety drivers.
Motional has worked with Hyundai to integrate the sensor suite and other hardware into the Ioniq 5, and Motional President and CEO Karl Iagnemma told TechCrunch that the robotaxis will roll off the line in South Korea, just like normal Ioniq 5s. “This is not a scenario where we’ll take a base vehicle, move it to a different line, take the components off, and then reintegrate or retrofit it,” he said. The cars will still have steering wheels, and passengers will not be allowed to ride in that seat.
One thing Motional is still keeping under wraps is the location of its first driverless Ioniq 5 deployment.