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Hyundai Launches ‘BotRide' Autonomous SUVs in California with Pony.ai & Via

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【Summary】Hyundai Motor Co, in collaboration with autonomous driving startup Pony.ai and ride-hailing company Via, today unveiled “BotRide”, a shared, on-demand, autonomous vehicle service operating on public roads in California.

FutureCar Staff    Oct 25, 2019 12:00 PM PT
Hyundai Launches ‘BotRide' Autonomous SUVs in California with Pony.ai & Via

Hyundai Motor Co, in collaboration with autonomous driving startup Pony.ai and ride-hailing company Via, today unveiled "BotRide", a shared, on-demand, autonomous vehicle service operating on public roads in California. 

Beginning Nov 4, a fleet of self-driving, fully-electric Hyundai KONA SUVs will provide a free ride-sharing service to the local community of Irvine, California.

"The pilot introduces BotRide to several hundred Irvine residents, including college students. The goal is to study consumer behavior in an autonomous ride-sharing environment," said Christopher Chang, head of business development, strategy and technology division, Hyundai Motor Company. 

Hyundai partnered with autonomous driving startup Pony.ai to build the self-driving system and with Via to create the BotRide on-demand ridesharing technology and application.

New York-based Via aims to reinvent public transportation from a rigid system of fixed routes to a dynamic, on-demand network similar to how people hail a ride with Uber. Via's advanced algorithms enable multiple riders to share the same vehicle. 

 "The BotRide pilot represents an important step in the deployment and eventual commercialization of a growing new mobility business. In addition to the technology partners powering BotRide, the broader city and community ecosystem have also played an important role in making BotRide possible. The BotRide pilot can serve as an example of how cities and companies can come together to truly enable smart cities and smart transportation systems of the future." said Daniel Han, manager, Advanced Product Strategy, Hyundai Motor America.

Using the BotRide app created by Via, riders can hail an autonomous driving Hyundai KONA Electric SUV directly from their smartphone. The Via app directs passengers to nearby stops for pick up and drop off. The self-driving Kona EV is outfitted with autonomous vehicle technology from Pony.ai. 

Armed with the latest hardware and software developed by Pony.ai, Hyundai says the BotRide vehicles are able to navigate complex road scenarios safely. The self-driving Hyundai Kona's can handle pedestrian traffic in urban areas, accurately monitor the surroundings, including the precise position of nearby vehicles, and predict the behavior of other road users to navigate a route.

In addition to testing Pony ai's self-driving capabilities, BotRide is validating the overall user experience, envisioning a future where people will interact with commercial autonomous vehicles.

BotRide's technology prioritizes passenger-to-system interactions such as automated onboard passenger verification, giving riders the chance to familiarize themselves with technologies expected to become commonplace in an autonomous mobility future.

The service area covers several residential, commercial, and other points of interest. 

Pony.ai is currently testing its self-driving system in the U.S. and China. The company was founded in late 2016. 

In addition to its work with Hyundai, Pony.ai is teaming up with Toyota on a pilot program on public roads in Beijing and Shanghai. The mobility pilot will utilize Toyota's Lexus RX vehicles outfitted with Pony.ai's autonomous system.

Earlier this month, Via launched its ride-hailing service in Cupertino, California, the home of tech giant Apple.

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