The companies announced a 10-year agreement for Uber to use autonomous Ioniq 5 EVs from Hyundai’s Motional for ride-hailing and deliveries. The vehicles will be “strategically deployed” in cities across the United States and will begin providing passenger rides later this year.
“This agreement will be instrumental to the wide scale adoption of robotaxis. Motional now has unparalleled access to millions of riders and a roadmap to scale significantly over the next ten years,” said Motional CEO Karl Iagnemma.
The companies are already collaborating. Uber announced late last year that it would test autonomous food delivery with Motional (a joint venture between Hyundai and Aptiv) in 2022.
Motional is also collaborating with Lyft, having begun public tests with the ride-hailing company in Las Vegas and Los Angeles in August. (Uber had its own autonomous vehicle division, Advanced Technologies Group, which it sold to Aurora Innovation in 2020.)
Uber will provide Motional with data to help it allocate and position vehicles more effectively.
Motional, for its part, claims that its autonomous vehicles will result in “reduced vehicle downtime and unnecessary miles traveled.” It will also allegedly result in a better customer experience, with shorter wait times and lower fares.
We’ve heard similar promises before, but only Alphabet’s Waymo and General Motors’ Cruise are currently offering true driverless services on a large scale.
Waymo One is currently available in Phoenix and San Francisco, while Cruise rides are only available in San Francisco. Both are restricted to specific areas of cities, and some vehicles still employ safety riders.
Motional started later than both of those companies, but it has completed more than 100,000 autonomous rides in Las Vegas using previous versions of its vehicles on the Lyft network, according to a statement released in August. However, the companies intend to increase that soon.
“The scope of this partnership shows the important role that shared autonomous vehicles will play in the future of transportation, and in Uber’s strategy to be the global platform to help you go anywhere and get anything,” said Uber’s autonomous driving chief Noah Zych.