The futuristic dream of self-driving cars is almost here, apparently. Autonomous driving company Motional and ride-hailing service Lyft have announced plans to roll out a commercial self-driving taxis service by 2023.
Self-driving tech is one of the hottest topics in the car world, with the prospects of autonomous driving flooding column inches in recent years. One thing’s for sure, though. It’s a lot easier to make promises than it is to actually make autonomous tech work.
Companies like Waymo are forging ahead with cutting-edge self-driving tech, and Tesla keeps pushing the boundaries with its autopilot features. And now, self-driving taxis look like they could soon be on the cards, as well. Allegedly, at least.
Boston-based autonomous tech company Motional and ride-hailing service Lyft have been testing autonomous vehicles in Las Vegas for three years. They also recently announced plans to trial a fleet of self-driving taxis in Los Angeles.
Now, the two companies say they want to take everything they’ve learned from these tests and put it into an autonomous taxi pilot program.
Motional says it hopes to begin transporting passengers in robotaxis next year in a small-scale trial of the service and its capabilities. Then, in 2023, Motional and Lyft hope to scale up the service to become a commercial self-driving taxi offering.
The fleet of self-driving taxis will be based on Hyundai’s all-electric Ioniq 5, which will be outfitted with an array of radar and lidar sensors.
If it actually happens, the launch in Las Vegas would be the first step in Lyft and Motional’s ambitions to offer self-driving taxis in various US cities in the coming years.
In a release, Motional said the rollout was being designed so that it would be scalable, eventually allowing them to “introduce millions of riders to driverless technology” in the coming years. Unless, of course, the target date gets pushed back again and again and again like we’ve seen happen with other autonomous driving startups.
Does a future of self-driving taxis fill you with dread, or are you excited that you’ll no longer need to make small talk with a cabbie?