Motional reveals its Hyundai Ioniq 5 electric robotaxi – TechCrunch

Motional on Tuesday revealed the first images of its planned robotaxi, an all-electric Hyundai Ioniq 5 SUV that will be the centerpiece of a driverless transportation service the company wants customers to be able to access starting in 2023 through the app. Lyft.

The specially designed vehicle, to be assembled by Hyundai, is integrated with Motional’s autonomous vehicle technology, which includes a suite of more than 30 sensors including lidar, radar and cameras that can be seen throughout the interior and exterior. That detection system provides 360 degrees of vision and the ability to see up to 300 meters away, according to Motional.

The company, which was born out of a $ 4 billion joint venture with Aptiv and Hyundai, intentionally showcases the numerous sensors, President and CEO Karl Iagnemma said in a recent interview.

“We see a lot of competitors going out of their way to try and hide this sensor array and hide it in these big plastic housings,” Iagnemma told TechCrunch. “And the fact is, you can’t hide the sensors. They need to be where they need to be and are 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’s design language and deliver it through the design of the integrated sensor suite. “

Motional has not announced where it will launch its first driverless robotaxi service. You are likely in one of the cities where you are currently testing and validating your technology, a list that includes Boston, Las Vegas, Los Angeles, and Pittsburgh.

Motional-Hyundai robotaxi Ioniq 5

Image Credit: Motional

The foundation of Motional’s robotaxi is the Hyundai Ioniq 5, an electric vehicle unveiled in February with a consumer launch date set for later this year. The consumer version will not be equipped with Motional’s autonomous vehicle technology. Unlike some AV developers, Motional did not 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 taxi or private rides are for two or fewer passengers. 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 automaker’s dedicated battery electric vehicle platform called the Electric Global Modular Platform (E-GMP). The vehicle, both the consumer version and the robotaxi version, is equipped with an 800-volt electrical system. This higher voltage system is capable of supplying the same amount of power as the more common 400 volt with less current. The 800-volt system, which debuted in the all-electric Porsche Taycan, is lighter, more efficient and allows the vehicle to charge at a faster rate.

That fast charging speed will be a major benefit to Motional’s robotaxi service.

Motional-Hyundai IONIQ 5 Robotaxi

Image credits: Motor

The robotaxi version of the Ioniq 5 will be assembled by Hyundai, a noteworthy detail, Iagnemma said.

“This is a vehicle that will come off the assembly line looking, as seen 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 reinstate or retrofit it.

Inside the robotaxi are screens that allow passengers to interact with the vehicle during their trip, such as directing the robotaxi to make an additional stop, according to the company.

The robotaxi still has a steering wheel and other features found in traditional vehicles operated by a human driver. Passengers will not be allowed to sit in the driver’s seat.

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