ZDNet headline: Lyft announces new battle plan in the autonomous vehicle race
Sub-headline: Afraid of getting left behind, rideshare companies bet big on an autonomous future.
Lyft is planning to deploy a massive driverless car fleet beginning in 2023. In anticipation of that milestone the company, which has partnered with self-driving car developer Motional, is updating its existing robotaxi service in Las Vegas with brand new all-electric models.
The IONIQ-5 vehicles, developed by Motional atop a Hyundai platform, provide L4 autonomy and utilize a Continuous Learning Framework (CLF) designed to make the vehicles safer with every mile driven. Motional is a joint venture of Hyundai Motor Group and auto supplier Aptiv.
“We will be deploying our robotaxis in major markets through our partnerships with ride-hailing networks,” Motional’s VP of Engineering & Head Autonomy, Sammy Omari, told ZDNet earlier this year. “In order to achieve wide-scale level 4 deployments, our vehicles need to be able to recognize and safely navigate the many unpredictable and unusual road scenarios that human drivers also face.”
Upstream the article mentions Hyundai and Motional have been giving autonomous rides to people in Las Vegas since 2017 with over 100,000 riders giving 5-stars for the experience. Adding $LYFT to the mix might help $LYFT stave off bankruptcy.
The launch heralds the lead-up to Motional and Lyft’s fully driverless service, planning to begin in 2023 and scaling to multiple U.S. cities. As part of the service, customers will use the app to control some of the features previously under the control of the driver, such as unlocking the doors through the Lyft and starting the ride. The new service will also feature a new in-ride display tailored to autonomous ridesharing. Motional and Lyft are making the new user features available to the public now in preparation for when the service plans to be fully driverless next year.
Lyft isn’t the only rideshare company turning to Motional. After giving up its in-house self-driving car dreams in 2020, Uber announced it would turn to Motional for autonomous Uber Eats deliveries in 2021. That service launched this year, giving Motional a powerful market position as rideshare companies look toward an autonomous future.