Uber launches robotaxi service using fleet of Hyundai IONIQ 5
Taking the driverless experience to a whole new level, ride-hailing giant Uber has launched a Level Four autonomous taxi service in Las Vegas, United States. The company has partnered with US-based start-up Motional for the self-driving service. A fleet of Hyundai's IONIQ 5 is being used in the service and the EVs are modified to be safe, reliable, and cost-effective.
Why does this story matter?
- Self-driving cars rely on computer-based algorithms, Artificial Intelligence (AI), Machine Learning (ML), and a sophisticated system of sensors and cameras to accurately perceive and safely navigate different environments.
- This will be the first time when people can access Autonomous Vehicles (AV) on Uber's network, in selected areas of Las Vegas.
- Earlier, the company successfully tested autonomous deliveries with Uber Eats in Greater Los Angeles.
A remote operator can guide the robotaxi to safety
The Hyundai IONIQ 5 robotaxi is capable of identifying hazards using 30 ultrasonic sensors along with a camera array, radar, and LiDAR systems at an "ultra-long range" for Level Four autonomous driving. Motional—Uber's partner for the autonomous service—claims that if the taxi runs into problematic conditions like roadworks or floods, it can be guided to safety by a remote operator.
The taxi offers a range of up to 507km
Mechanically unaltered, the Hyundai IONIQ 5 robotaxi offers a range of up to 507km on a single charge. The autonomous EV also supports a 220kW fast charging, allowing the batteries to be replenished from 10% to 80% in about 18 minutes.
Passengers will control vehicle functions through the Uber app
The robotaxi fleet will be available along with the regular taxis through UberX and Uber Comfort electric options. The service will show a clear disclaimer to the users accepting the ride. Those who accept the ride will have to control the doors through a prompt in the Uber app that pops up once the taxi arrives at the designated pick-up point.
The robotaxi will operate in designated areas only
The Hyundai IONIQ 5 robotaxi fleet will be capable of driving without any intervention and attention of the driver, albeit under limited conditions and within an approved (geo-fenced) area in the city.
Fully driverless experience will be available by 2023
As per Reuters, the robotaxi will have a driver present in the vehicle for now and the company is planning to provide a fully driverless experience by 2023. Uber is currently not charging its riders as it promotes autonomous driving. The US-based brand has been testing driverless vehicles for a couple of years and has had successful runs in other cities as well.