Boston-based autonomous tech company Motional has expanded its operations into Southern California. According a report from the L.A. Times, Motional is bringing a fleet of driverless Hyundais to L.A. Even if autonomous cars haven’t proven themselves to be safe enough for prime time yet, at least this startup is basing its effort on a car that actually looks good.
Motional is the result of a partnership between Hyundai and the Ireland-based remains of the company formerly known as Delphi, now known as Aptiv. Motional recently moved to L.A. and is based out of a Santa Monica office. While driverless car testing is important, the main reason for the move is to attract talent.
“When most people think of Los Angeles, they think of Hollywood. I think of engineers.” Cheif Executive Karl Iagnemma said. “Some of the best machine learning engineers are in L.A.”
Of course, there are even more of them in Silicon Valley, where Motional is also setting up its first research and development office. But recruitment of the limited number of machine learning specialists there is highly competitive.
As for the autonomous testing, each Ioniq 5 will be fitted with the company’s sensors, with a total of 30 radar and lidar sensors duct taped to each one. While the company currently has vehicles testing in other cities around the world, it’s remaining quiet about how many vehicles are actually on the road. According to Iagnemma, L.A. was chosen because of its traffic congestion which he says poses a “special challenge” to testing.
The company also has a partnership lineup with Lyft, which has its own driverless taxi plans in plans for 2024. This will result in driverless taxis being on the streets of a few U.S. cities. At least that’s the plan. We’ll have to wait and see if it ever comes to fruition.