L.A. Prepares to Welcome First Test Fleet of Robotaxis
Los Angeles, Calif., will soon see a test fleet of robotaxis, but no passengers will be picked up until the proper approvals are made. The cars, made by Hyundai, will be equipped with driverless tech from Motional.
(TNS) — If you’ve driven around the Bay Area lately, there’s a good chance you’ve spotted a driverless test car sharing the highway, a whirling lidar array atop its roof. Not so much in the Southland. Little robot car testing has been conducted in Southern California to date.
That will change soon. Driverless car technology company Motional announced Tuesday that it will deploy “in the near term” a test fleet of new Hyundai Ioniq 5 electric cars in and around Los Angeles, fitted with its robotaxi technology.
The Boston-based company earlier this month announced a major expansion of its Santa Monica office, including the addition of more autonomous vehicle engineering specialists.
Motional is a joint venture of Hyundai Motor Group and motor vehicle parts supplier Aptiv. The Hyundai Ioniq 5 compact electric SUV is a landmark product for the South Korean company, built on a new platform specifically engineered for electric vehicles. It’s due to hit the U.S. market this fall. (Hyundai is based in Seoul. Its U.S. headquarters is in Fountain Valley, highly visible alongside the 405 Freeway.)
Hyundai and Motional are working closely together to integrate hardware — sensors and the car itself — with a driverless software system. The Ioniq 5 will be fitted with 30 sensors including radar, lidar (which is like radar but uses laser beams in place of radio waves), ultrasound and cameras. “A lot of people think autonomy is just a software game, but integration with a vehicle is a complex task,” said Motional Chief Executive Karl Iagnemma.