Motional will test unmanned vehicles without safety net in Las VegasNovember 24, 2020
Motional, a subsidiary of Hyundai and Aptiv, has received approval from Nevada regulators to test self-driving cars without a driver. Motional will start with closed circuits near Las Vegas and will launch self-driving cars on public roads in the first half of 2021. According to VentureBeat, the company plans to launch a full-fledged robotic taxi service in the United States by the end of 2022.
At first glance, the tests will not change much – Motional will use the same cars, and the driver-operators will remain in the car and simply move to the next seat. However, permission from the government of Nevada means that in the near future, Motional will be able to receive another certificate – to launch a completely unmanned service without insurance.
“Test vehicles are part of our research and development effort to create fully autonomous robotic taxis that will become available in 2022. And although the test vehicles still have some limitations, this is an important part of our development, ”said Motional Technical Director Laura Mayor.
Company officials are calling the new operators in the passenger seat “safety stewards.” These employees will record the actions of the autopilot and what is happening on the roads, and, in case of emergency, will be able to stop the transport. Motional noted that at the beginning and at the end of each shift, cars will undergo disinfection and inspection.
In its tests, Motional relies on vehicles from parent company Hyundai and Aptiv technology. The latter corresponds to the fourth level of autonomy – extensive automation. The system reads all traffic signs, controls traffic on public roads and can park the vehicle. Technically speaking, the autopilot uses a set of high-definition cameras, LiDAR sensors and a 3D mapping system.
Previously, Waymo, Nuro, Zoox, Cruise and AutoX received similar permission. At the same time, none of the above companies has yet launched real tests of machines without an operator in the driver’s seat.
Hyundai and Aptiv created Motional with a business valuation of $ 4 billion in September last year. The chief engineers of the new company were involved in the first project to launch a robotic taxi in Singapore and were responsible for the autonomous vehicle’s cross-country journey from New York to San Francisco. Motional is currently testing vehicles in Las Vegas, Singapore and Seoul.
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