Motional, Via Launch Complimentary Robotaxi Shuttle in Las Vegas
【Summary】The autonomous shuttle service will have a safety driver in the front seat and operate on routes that include pre-determined pickup and drop-off locations.
Last November, Lyft and Motional, the joint venture involving Aptiv and Hyundai, announced plans to launch a commercial autonomous robotaxi service in Las Vegas in 2023. The news wasn't all that surprising, as the two companies have been working together for years in the city. While the commercial robotaxi service with Lyft is still off in the distance, Motional has partnered with Via, an on-demand and transit tech service, to launch a new robotaxi service in Las Vegas. At this point, if you're having trouble keeping up with all of the robotaxi services in Nevada, you're not alone.
New Robotaxi Service Arrives
Motional and Aptiv first announced their partnership back in October 2020. Back then, the companies stated that they would be working together to launch a robotaxi service during the first half of 2021. The companies are roughly a full year behind schedule, but that's understandable with everything that happened because of the COVID-19 pandemic.
Originally, Motional and Via initially came together to develop a blueprint for on-demand shared robotaxis and to gather information on how these vehicles could cohabitate with other forms of mass transit. Those original plans have been ditched, as the companies are now looking to offer private rides.
How The Service Works
The partnership's free robotaxi service started earlier this week, as riders in downtown Las Vegas were able to book one of Motional's robotaxis through Via's smartphone app. Users can book a ride between 9 AM to 5 PM from Monday through Friday. At the moment, Motional will be using BMW 5-Series sedans as its taxi vehicles. In the near future, it wants to switch to the all-electric Hyundai IONIQ 5.
All of the vehicles will have a safety driver in the front seat and go on routes with pre-determined pickup and drop-off locations. Users can see the locations through Via's app, but they include Las Vegas City Hall, RTC Bonneville Transit Center, Las Vegas Arts District, Container Park, and Clark County Government Center.
At this point, Las Vegas has quickly become the go-to location for companies to test their autonomous vehicles. Nevada has fewer regulations regarding autonomous vehicles compared to other states, which is why companies use it as its testing grounds. Additionally, some companies can also charge consumers for rides in autonomous vehicles, though Motional and Via won't be charging users for rides at the moment.
Vineeth Joel Patel
Joel Patel has been covering all aspects of the automotive industry for four years as an editor and freelance writer for various websites. When it comes to cars, he enjoys covering the merger between technology and cars. In his spare time, Joel likes to watch baseball, work on his car, and try new foods
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