The future is here and we’re feeling a little uneasy about it. So much of our everyday lives has become automated – from our thermostats to our coffee makers – even pet food dispensers. We’ve seen automation adopted in small ways, but Motional is kicking things up a notch by offering Robotaxi services in Vegas. That’s right – your taxi will self-drive you to your destination, sans driver.
For the first time ever, public users can utilize the Uber network to request a ride from a robotaxi. The all-electric Hyundai IONQIQ 5 will be available on UberX and Uber Comfort Electic rides. Riders will be required to opt-in to a driverless ride option. Their launch of robotaxi is part of a 10-year deal that will create the largest automated vehicle fleet on a major ride-sharing platform. While the Vegas rollout will test the system on a smaller scale, the plan is to grow the network to eventually reach millions of Uber riders.
This isn’t the first time we’ve seen this concept from Uber and Motional. Uber Eats, Uber’s food delivery app, has had great success with autonomous deliveries in Los Angeles since launching the feature back in May. Of course, the launch of robotaxis is garnering a lot more attention, given that the safety of riders is at stake.
Noah Zych, Global Head of Autonomous Mobility and Delivery at Uber, said, “Motional has proven themselves to be an industry leader, steadily and safely progressing autonomous technology towards a driverless future,” said Noah Zych, Global Head of Autonomous Mobility and Delivery at Uber.
To ensure optimal operation and a seamless launch, Uber will only be deploying robotaxis with vehicle operators for now, but they plan to remove operators sometime in 2023, providing a fully driverless experience.
There have been safety concerns for rideshare drivers and riders alike, with news reports covering multiple incidents each year. Some riders may feel more at ease knowing that they’re not getting into a stranger’s car, but we’re curious to see if that anxiety will be shifted to the fact that there’s no driver in the car.
Would you consider booking a robotaxi or will you stick to traditional rideshare options?