Motional released Tuesday the first images from its robotaxi, a Hyundai all electric Ioniq 5 SUV. This will be the center of a driverless ride-hailing system that customers can access beginning in 2023 via the Lyft app.
Hyundai will build the purpose-built vehicle. It is equipped with Motionals autonomous car technology. This includes a suite more than 30 sensors, including radar, lidar and cameras, that can be seen both inside and outside. Motional claims that this sensing system can see 360 degrees and can see 300 meters away.
In an interview, Karl Iagnemma, President and CEO of the company, stated that the company was created out of a $4B joint venture with Aptiv, Hyundai and Hyundai.
TechCrunch spoke to Iagnemma about the many companies that try to conceal this sensor suite by hiding it in big plastic cases. The fact is that you can't hide the sensors. They must be there, and they are an integral part of the vehicle and technology. Our strategy was to celebrate sensors and adapt the vehicle's design language to incorporate the sensor suite.
Motional has yet to announce the location where its first driverless robotaxi service will be launched. It is likely that it will launch in one of the cities where it is currently testing and validating its technology. This list includes Los Angeles, Boston, Las Vegas and Los Angeles.
Motionals' base robotaxi is the Hyundai Iniq 5, an electric car that was revealed in February. A consumer release date for this vehicle will be announced later this year. Motionals autonomous vehicle technology will not be available in the consumer version. Motional chose not to use a shuttle design, or even a larger van as its first robotaxi unlike other AV developers.
According to Iagnemma, the majority of ride-hailing and taxi trips are for one or two passengers. Motionals' use case is best served by the Ioniq 5, he said.
Hyundai Ioniq 5, the first vehicle to be built on the dedicated battery electric vehicle platform of automakers, the Electric Global Modular Platform (EGMP), is the Hyundai Ioniq 5. Both the robotaxi and consumer versions of the vehicle are equipped with an 800-volt electrical system. The higher voltage system can supply the same power as the 400-volt, but with less current. The all-electric Porsche Taycan's 800-volt system was introduced. It is lighter, more efficient, and charges the vehicle at a faster speed.
Motionals robotaxi service will benefit from the fast charging rate.
Iagnemma stated that Hyundai will build the robotaxi version Ioniq 5 from scratch. This is a remarkable detail.
Iagnemma stated that this is the vehicle that will be coming off the assembly line looking exactly like the photos. This is not the case where you can take a base car, move it to another line, remove the parts, and then reintegrate it or retrofit it.
The robotaxi has displays that allow riders to interact during their ride. For example, they can direct the robotaxi to make an additional stop.
Robotaxis still have a steering wheel and other features that are found in traditional vehicles driven by humans. Riders are not allowed to sit in the driver's seat.