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The ride-hailing company announced the launch with a press release Wednesday. Uber is teaming with Boston-based Motional, a two-year-old autonomous vehicle company founded as a partnership between Hyundai and auto parts maker Aptiv. The robotaxis come in the form of modified all-electric Hyundai Ioniq hatchbacks.
According to Motional’s press release about the launch, autonomous vehicles (AV) will simply be an additional option for Uber users requesting rides in Las Vegas, if available. They won’t simply show up like eerily empty ghost cars, though — the Ioniqs have a pair of “vehicle operators” who monitor operations and assist riders with rider needs.
Motional and Uber added the operators in preparation for a fully driverless service they want to make publicly available next year. In the press release, Motional VP of Commercialization Akshay Jaising stated that “Las Vegas is the first of many cities in which Motional’s AVs will become an everyday transportation option for Uber customers looking for a safe and convenient ride.”
Here’s more about long-term plans for the partnership:
This service is the first in Motional and Uber’s 10-year commercial partnership that will see Motional’s Level 4 autonomous vehicles (AVs) deployed for ride-hail and deliveries on the Uber network in major cities across the U.S. The public robotaxi service will first launch in Las Vegas before expanding at a later date to Los Angeles, CA.
Motional says the launch makes it the first company of its kind to partner with a major rideshare network.
Users in Vegas interested in taking a robotaxi ride can select options for either UberX or Uber Comfort Electric.