Lyft, in partnership with an autonomous vehicle company, Motional, have officially launched a new robotaxi service for public use in Las Vegas, as per The Verge.

The service is a preparation to a fully driverless system that is expected to launch in the city in 2023.

Lyft and Motional made the announcement that the driverless Ioniq 5 is ready to offer rides to the public, including residents and visitors of the city.

Following today’s announcement, it makes the Ioniq 5 the first fully electric autonomous vehicle to be part of Lyft’s network, as per Engadget.

lyft, motional, robotaxi, las vegas
(Photo : Robyn Beck/ Getty Images)

Fully Electric Autonomous Hyundai Ioniq 5 Arrives in Las Vegas

Motional is a joint venture between Hyundai and Aptiv. For over four years now, the company has been testing its autonomous vehicles in Las Vegas through a partnership with Lyft.

The testing started as a weeklong pilot between Aptiv and Lyft. It began during the annual Consumer Electronics Show in 2018. Since then, the partnership has completed over 100,000 passenger trips.

As part of its public launch, you will find that the Ioniq 5 to be fully integrated into Lyft’s software. For instance, when the car arrives, you can use the Lyft’s app to unlock the doors.

The all-electric Hyundai Ioniq 5 vehicles have been modified for commercial operations. For the time being, there is a safety driver behind the steering wheel in case something goes wrong.

This practice is similar to the way other robotaxi services have been launched over the years. However, according to Motional and Lyft, fully driverless vehicles will be part of the service next year.

The robotaxi service of Motional and Lyft is different from other robotaxi services in the US that require potential riders to sign up for a waitlist or sign a non-disclosure agreement in order to be part of a beta-testing program.

Moreover, according to the companies all rides will be free, as they are planning to start charging for the service next year.

Lyft, Motional Made New User Features Available to the Public

This robotaxi service is unique from Lyft’s traditional network of vehicles, as customers wanting to avail one of Motional’s autonomous vehicles will have access to a range of new features.

According to Motional and Lyft, the new features are based on “extensive research and feedback from real riders to maximize their comfort and ease of use,” as per Engadget.

In preparation for the fully driverless service next year, the companies decided to make the new user features available to the public now.

Currently, the companies have a permit to conduct “fully driverless testing anywhere in Nevada,” according to Motional.

In order to begin conducting commercial rides in fully driverless vehicles in 2023, the two companies said that they will secure the necessary permits.

Hyundai first announced Motional in March 2020. Back then, Hyundai said that it would allot $1.6 billion “to catch up to its rivals” in the autonomous vehicle space.

Motional comes along with Aptiv, which is a technology company initially known as Delphi.

Presently, there is only a small number of AV operators that have deployed fully driverless vehicles on public roads.

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