The future of shared rides has arrived in Las Vegas. In a press release, driverless technology company Motional announced a 10-year, non-exclusive partnership with Uber that allows users of the ride-sharing app to take a robotaxi in Silver City.
The launch marks the first time that Uber customers will be able to book rides with an autonomous vehicle. However, the elevators will not be completely devoid of human interaction. the edge reports that the pilot program will feature safety drivers behind the wheel of the Hyundai IONIQ 5-based all-electric robotaxis. The company intends to have fully driverless rides by 2023.
Robotaxis are now available for UberX and Uber Comfort Electric tiers in the rideshare app. And, for now, the rides are free. Although, both companies claim that paid fees are coming in the near future.
The program comes just months after the successful launch of autonomous delivery for Uber Eats in Los Angeles. And Motional hopes to expand robotic taxis to Uber customers in Los Angeles “at a later date.” The company has successfully operated a robotaxi service in Las Vegas for the past five years.
The deal marks Uber’s re-entry into the autonomous ride-sharing race. The company had previously tried to develop its own fleet of driverless vehicles, but those plans were scrapped when a car killed a pedestrian in 2017.
Sources: PR Newswire, the edge