Hyundai has introduced its Ioniq 5-based autonomous robotaxis in Las Vegas where you can have one pick you up via Uber or Lyft. They currently have safety drivers on board, but in the second half of 2023 the manufacturer plans to have these vehicles operate on their own, without the safety driver.
The manufacturer recently published a video showing the autonomous Ioniq 5 driving around Las Vegas with no driver, a scene which should become real by the end of next year. Apparently Las Vegas was chosen to run this pilot program because it’s a city that can serve up unique and challenging traffic scenarios that the vehicle would not encounter anywhere else.
In the video’s description, Hyundai says that "the more we drive on difficult roads, the safer your ride will become. Las Vegas is a city full of rare cases not found in other cities, and a mile in Vegas is unlike a mile anywhere else."
These robotaxis may be based around a Hyundai Ioniq 5, but they were actually created by a specialized autonomous vehicle company called Motional and were revealed back in 2021. In fact, we actually got to see one of them up close in person at last year’s German motor show where it was shown alongside the Hyundai Prophecy concept that previewed the Ioniq 6 streamliner.
This is not the only program of this type. Currently General Motors-owned Cruise operates autonomous Chevrolet Bolt EV-based self-driving taxis in San Francisco (where they are the source of some unusual goings on), while Google-owned Waymo has its own fleet of driverless taxis operating in areas of San Francisco, as well as Phoenix, Arizona where they recently began making trips to and from the Phoenix airport, which the company considers are some of the most difficult types of trips, especially when they are pickups.
Motional wants to first roll out its Ioniq 5-based autonomous taxis in Las Vegas, then expand to other major US cities in the next few years before expanding further to other countries.