by Tiana May
27 Feb 2023
Autonomous vehicle company, Motional has announced that ride-hailing passengers in Las Vegas can now order a self-driving IONIQ 5 robotaxi at night.
This expansion from daytime operations follows extensive testing to determine that Motional’s technology can handle the challenges of safely driving in Las Vegas at night.
This is one of three upgrades that has been made to Motional’s fleet of electric IONIQ 5 robotaxis, which have been carrying public passengers in Las Vegas since August 2022.
“Las Vegas is a city that really comes alive once the sun goes down, so extending our service to match rider demand is a critical step forward in the evolution of our vehicle. We’re happy we can now spend more hours everyday introducing passengers to our technology, and helping them travel safely and comfortably where they need to go.”
Last year, Motional partnered with both Lyft and Uber to offer autonomous ride-hailing services in Las Vegas. The vehicles operate autonomously but are currently supervised by onboard operators for safety purposes.
The fleet’s latest upgrades are expected to improve the passenger experience and eliminate the need for the human operator, as Motional plans to go fully driverless later this year.
In addition to operating at night, the robotaxis are now connected to a remote vehicle assistance (RVA) system that helps determine the safest way to navigate obstacles.
The RVA will be used to guide a vehicle around complex scenarios that cause it to pause. Previously, this task was the responsibility of the onboard operator.
As Motional’s robotaxis travel more miles, RVA will use machine learning to train the system to figure out solutions for these challenging situations, which should reduce the amount the remote vehicle assistance system needs to be called upon.
“As advanced as these vehicles are, and as many scenarios as they can handle, they will undoubtedly find themselves in some driving situation they’ve never experienced before. RVA helps vehicles navigate complex conditions and continue their journey safely.”
Furthermore, passengers can now use their ride-hailing app to interact with the autonomous vehicles.
The interface allows passengers to control functions such as unlocking the vehicle, starting the ride, contacting customer service and controlling the vehicle’s climate control system.
This channel of communication can also allow passengers to preset preferences such as the cabin temperature before the robotaxi picks them up.
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