Picture: Motional

Lyft and Motional have announced a new partnership which means that members of the public can now catch a ride in a new type of self-driving vehicle based on Hyundai’s electric IONIQ 5 to get around the city.  

Lyft is rolling out the new driverless vehicles to the streets of Las Vegas as the company aims to launch a fully driverless service in the city next year. 

The joint venture is the latest collaboration between Lyft and Motional, a partnership between Hyundai Motor Group and driving software company Aptiv that develops autonomous vehicles.  

Lyft and Motional have been testing autonomous ride-sharing in Las Vegas since 2018 and have reported more than 100,000 rides — which include a safety driver at the wheel — with no reported at-fault incidents. 

This week’s launch is the initial phase in the lead-up to a fully driverless service Motional and Lyft hope to expand to multiple cities using the IONIQ 5 autonomous electric vehicle. Two safety drivers will remain behind the steering wheel in case something goes wrong, but the service expected in 2023 will not include a vehicle operator behind the wheel.  

“Motional and Lyft have a clear path to widespread commercialization of Level 4 autonomous vehicles,” said Karl Iagnemma, Motional’s president and CEO. 

“We’ve led the industry in commercial operations for years, and today’s launch signals we’re on track to deliver fully driverless service next year,” he said.  

These two companies are among several that have kicked off autonomous taxi services in cities across the country, most of which are in the testing stage. Waymo, a Google-affiliated self-driving car company, is the only to currently offer truly driverless service in the Phoenix suburbs of Chandler, Tempe, Mesa and Gilbert.