Lyft and Motional announce plans to launch robotaxi service in Los Angeles

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By Louis Allen - 

US ride-sharing platform Lyft (NASDAQ: LYFT) and driverless technology company Motional have announced plans to launch a robotaxi service in Los Angeles.

Both parties confirmed the news that Los Angeles’ residents will soon be able to book robotaxis on the Lyft app, but for now, when that will be remains unclear.

The plans have been on the cards for some time now, as the companies trialled autonomous rides in Las Vegas since 2018, with more than 100,000 rides completed to date, boasting zero at-fault accidents.

Los Angeles will become the second US city to offer the driverless taxi service after Las Vegas, although tough regulatory scrutiny and delayed commercial adoption of autonomous vehicle (AV) technology has delayed the deployment of robotaxi services.

Lyft chief executive officer Logan Green said its plans will help accelerate the growth of AVs within Los Angeles.

“Scaling AVs only works if riders can get a reliable ride, whether it’s autonomous or not, and together with Motional, Lyft will turn AV technology into transportation for Angelenos everywhere,” he said.

Motional uses Hyundai Motor’s IONIQ5 electric car for its robotaxi service, a joint venture between the manufacturer and automotive technology company Aptiv.

Lyft launched the driverless rides in Las Vegas in the Hyundai IONIQ 5 back in 2018.

Addressing LA’s traffic problem

Los Angeles was chosen as the second city to offer the driverless taxi service due to the city’s infamous traffic problem.

Experts also believe there’s a resounding interest in AVs among Californians compared to the rest of the country.

Motional chief executive officer Karl Iagnemma added that “Los Angeles is the second most populated city in the US and represents a huge market opportunity for AV adoption.”

Los Angeles mayor Eric Garcetti expressed his excitement about the potential program, as it will add other transportation options for those who do not own a vehicle.

“If we want to make good on our commitment to ease congestion while cutting emissions, we need to give Angelenos real alternatives to having their own vehicles,” he said.

“Motional and Lyft have been true leaders in shaping the future of mobility in our city – and we look forward to working closely with them to safely introduce AVs into our growing list of transportation options.”

Motional cements itself as a leader

In 2021, both Motional and Uber Technologies announced the beginning of a 10-year partnership to supply driverless vehicles.

The partnership placed Motional as the first AV company to offer both delivery and ride-hailing services with a giant such as Uber.

Motional said its technology today is a result of decades of innovation and millions of miles of testing.

The driverless IONIQ 5s are powered by Motional’s AI-first autonomous vehicle stack, which comprises of more than 30 sensors, including cameras, radar, and LiDAR.

Also, it contains an onboard computer-like system that is responsible for processing all data that comes in from the robotaxi cameras and sensors.

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