Motional unveiled on Tuesday the first images of its robotaxi project, an all-electric Hyundai Ioniq 5 SUV that will be the centerpiece of a driverless VTC service that the company wants customers to be able to access from 2023 via the app. Lyft.
The specially designed vehicle, which will be assembled by Hyundai, is integrated with Motional’s autonomous vehicle technology, including a suite of more than 30 sensors, including lidar, radar, and cameras visible inside and out. outside. This detection system provides 360-degree vision and the ability to see up to 300 meters, according to Motional.
The company, which was born out of a $ 4 billion joint venture with Aptiv and Hyundai, intentionally showcases the many sensors, CEO Karl Iagnemma said in a recent interview.
“We see so many competitors bending over backwards to try to hide this suite of sensors and hide it in these big plastic cases,” Iagnemma told TechCrunch. “And the point is, you can’t hide the sensors. They need to be where they need to be and they’re an important part of the car and a key part of the technology. So our strategy was to celebrate the sensors and adapt the vehicle design language and carry it through the design of the integrated sensor suite.
Motional has not announced where it will launch its first driverless robotaxi service. It’s likely to be in one of the cities where it is currently testing and validating its technology, a list that includes Boston, Las Vegas, Los Angeles, and Pittsburgh.
The basis of Motional’s robotaxi is the Hyundai Ioniq 5, an electric vehicle unveiled in February with a mainstream release date expected later this year. The consumer version will not be equipped with Motional’s autonomous vehicle technology. Unlike some AV developers, Motional didn’t choose a shuttle design or even a larger van for its first robotaxi.
Iagnemma said the company’s research shows that the vast majority of cab or cab rides are for two passengers or less. The Ioniq 5 is the right size vehicle for Motional’s use case, he added.
The Hyundai Ioniq 5 is the first vehicle based on the manufacturer’s dedicated battery-electric vehicle platform called the Electric Global Modular Platform (E-GMP). The vehicle – both the consumer and robotaxi version – is equipped with an 800-volt electrical system. This higher voltage system is able to deliver the same amount of power as the more 400 volt current with less current. The 800-volt system, which debuted in the all-electric Porsche Taycan, is lighter, more efficient and allows the vehicle to recharge faster.
This rapid charge rate will be a major benefit for Motional’s robotaxi service.
The robotaxi version of the Ioniq 5 will be assembled by Hyundai, a remarkable detail, said Iagnemma.
“This is a vehicle that will come off the assembly line, as you can see in the photos,” said Iagnemma. “This is not a scenario where we will take a base vehicle, move it to a different line, remove the components, and then re-integrate or modernize it.
Inside the robotaxi are screens allowing drivers to interact with the vehicle during their journey, such as ordering the robotaxi to make an extra stop, according to the company.
The robotaxi still has a steering wheel and other features found in traditional vehicles driven by a human driver. Riders will not be allowed to sit in the driver’s seat.