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The partnership between Uber and Motional will not be the first time the latter startup has inked a similar partnership with other ride-hailing giants such as Lyft and Via Networks.
American ride-hailing giant Uber Technologies Inc (NYSE: UBER) has inked a partnership with Motional, a Hyundai-Aptiv joint venture focused on commercializing self-driving technology, to launch a public autonomous ride-hailing service in Las Vegas, Nevada.
As reported by TechCrunch, the robotaxi service will feature Motional’s electric IONIQ 5 vehicles and will leverage the existing customer and route network of Uber to function. The partnership is mutually beneficial as it permits both entities to advance their agendas with respect to the commercialization of autonomous vehicle services.
As announced, the service will be available on both UberX and Uber Comfort Electric but the accessibility timeline will be limited to daytime for now. Motional noted that safety personnel will be in the self-driving cars at first but the plan is to launch a completely autonomous service by next year.
The details with respect to the total number of robotaxis that will be made available were not revealed, however, a spokesperson for Motional told TechCrunch that users will be able to hail the robotaxis in “high-traffic and popular destinations along the Las Vegas strip.
According to the details of the partnership, the first few customers can take patronize the robotaxis at no cost as the duo of Uber and Motional will try to collect feedback from these users. This feedback will be used to further enhance the overall experience of the autonomous ride-hailing service.
The partnership between Uber and Motional will not be the first time the latter startup has inked a similar partnership with other ride-hailing giants such as Lyft Inc (NASDAQ: LYFT) and Via Networks. The company has recorded impressive success with its prior partnerships and it is riding on this track record to bet that its recent deal with Uber will work out fine.
Uber and Motional: a Mutually Beneficial Association
Individually, both companies covet each other’s primary businesses and the current partnership gives them an opportunity to access one another’s businesses with ease.
Uber for instance floated its autonomous driving unit, Uber ATG in 2015 and after much investment, it had to sell off the offshoot to Aurora in 2020. Uber highlighted at the time of sale that the cost of developing the technology to maturity was too high and that the aftermath of any mishaps may be quite too costly for Uber’s reputation as a leader in the industry.
The firm came to this conclusion when one of its test drives killed a pedestrian even though a safety personnel was inside the robotaxi at the time.
The same sentiment is driving Motional as it believes developing the kind of technology Uber has, accumulating customers, beating the existing competition, and establishing a notable brand will be close to a decade’s work. Partnering with Uber and the other major players in the industry thus sounds more like a better decision for the firm at this time.