Hyundai recently unveiled the IONIQ 5, which looks to be a really compelling entrant to the EV market. This vehicle just became way more important with news that ride-sharing service Lyft plans on using the IONIQ 5 as a robotaxi starting in 2023.
The regular consumer version of the car won’t have the technology necessary to achieve this, which is where Motional comes in. Back in August of 2020, Motional was born from a joint venture between Hyundai and Aptiv and together they’re building a technology suite to achieve autonomous mobility.
Starting in 2023, consumers in select markets will be able to book a Motional robotaxi through the Lyft app.
This special version of the IONIQ 5 will be equipped with Level 4 autonomous driving capabilities. To achieve this milestone, the cars will be fitted with LiDAR, radar, and cameras to understand the complete environment around the robotaxi, with the ability to see up to 300 meters away, and enable Motional’s driverless system to see, understand, and react to dynamic driving environments.
To ensure the cars are safe, Motional say they will use simulation, closed courses, and public roads. Testing autonomous vehicles on public roads has been met by criticism, but given we’re now seeing multiple autonomous companies do this, it confirms that having cars interact with real-world environments is the only way to find edge cases and confirm the software can accommodate for it appropriately.
The concept of autonomous vehicles hitting the road is obviously scary for some, which means regulators need to configure a set of parameters to ensure the tech stack of all automakers are up to the task.
Until international standards emerge, each company will have to make their own determination of when their technology is ready. Motional has set a benchmark ‘testing is only completed once we’re confident our robotaxis are safer than a human driver.’
That benchmark is an interesting metric. To put it in context, Tesla are aiming for their Full Self Driving tech to be many, many times safer than a human. What the right number is, is a really difficult thing to know, but any improvement on human capability will see a reduction of road accidents and fatalities.
For those not familiar with the levels of autonomy, SAE International list Level 4 as High Driving Automation. This means sustained the car should be able to drive itself without any expectation that a user will respond to a request to intervene.
More information at Motional.