All-electric Hyundai IONIQ 5 to serve as vehicle platform for next-gen robotaxi service with Lyft

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Driverless technology company Motional will be using Hyundai’s all-electric, midsize crossover utility vehicle for its robotaxi service.

Image: CNET/Hyundai

This week, driverless technology company Motional announced that Hyundai’s IONIQ 5 will serve as the vehicle platform for its future robotaxi partnership with Lyft. Motional, which was created by Hyundai Motor Group and Aptiv, signed a deal with Lyft in December as momentum builds in the industry around robotaxi deployment. The two companies have plans to launch the robotaxi deployment for the major ridesharing network in 2023.

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The IONIQ 5 is an all-electric vehicle built on Hyundai’s battery electric vehicle platform, and in a blog post, a spokesperson for Motional wrote that the IONIQ 5 is innovative for “both mobility and sustainability.”

“We’re excited to announce that the critically acclaimed, all-electric Hyundai IONIQ 5 will be the vehicle platform for Motional’s next-generation robotaxi. This will be the vehicle used in Motional’s fully driverless service with Lyft,” Motional’s VP Gretchen Effgen said in an email.  

“That service, launching in 2023, will mark the largest deployment of robotaxis on a major rideshare network and has the potential to introduce millions of Americans to driverless technology. We believe driverless vehicles can provide safer, more accessible and more sustainable transportation.” 

The blog post explains that by 2023, consumers in select markets will be able to book a Motional robotaxi through the Lyft app. 

“For many, this will be their first experience with driverless technology. The futuristic IONIQ 5 is an all-electric, midsize crossover utility vehicle designed for the passenger experience,” the blog post said. 

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“With a unique and luxurious living space and a sleek, modern exterior, Motional and Lyft riders will experience their fully autonomous rides in comfort and style. This isn’t the IONIQ 5 consumer model: Motional’s IONIQ 5 will be equipped with Level 4 autonomous driving capabilities. It’s the first robotaxi under the Motional name—and is the product of deep collaboration between Hyundai’s world-class manufacturing and design teams, and Motional’s autonomy, robotics and software teams.”

There has been concern over the past few years about the dangers of driverless vehicles, and concerns only grew louder after the death of Elaine Herzberg in 2018. Herzberg was killed in Tempe, Arizona, when one of Uber’s self-driving vehicles hit her as she crossed the street. 

The team at Motional is now working with Hyundai to integrate the IONIQ 5s into its driverless system and adding technology that will help make the vehicles have quicker reflexes for when they have to interact with other cars and people. 

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It will come built with LiDAR, radar and 360-degree cameras that can see up to 300 meters away. The company statement said the teams will spend months testing the vehicles before they hit the road and plan to only release them once they can confirm they drive better than humans.

The blog post notes that the driverless vehicles have already done more than 1.5 million miles worth of tests in diverse road environments and hundreds of thousands of hours of testing. 

“Choosing the IONIQ 5 as the platform for our next-generation robotaxi was an obvious choice for us as it represents the future of electric mobility with a best-in-class passenger experience,” Effgen added.

“We’re looking forward to many consumers experiencing their first robotaxi ride in this vehicle, and expect it will set a new standard for safety, reliability and comfort.”

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