The future of ridesharing has arrived in Las Vegas. In a press release, driverless technology company Motional announced a non-exclusive 10-year partnership with Uber allowing users of the ridesharing app to hail a robotaxi in the Silver City.
The launch marks the first time Uber customers will be able to book rides with an autonomous vehicle. However, the lifts won’t be completely devoid of human interaction. The Verge reports that the pilot program will feature safety drivers behind the wheel of the all-electric Hyundai IONIQ 5-based robotaxis. The company intends to have completely driverless rides in 2023.
Robotaxis are now available for UberX and Uber Comfort Electric tiers in the ridesharing app. And, for now, rides are free. Although, both companies state that paid fares will be coming in the near future.
The program comes just months after the successful launch of autonomous deliveries for Uber Eats in Los Angeles. And Motional expects to expand robotaxis to Uber customers in L.A. “at a later date.” The company has successfully operated a robotaxi service in Las Vegas for the past five years.
The deal marks Uber’s reentry into the autonomous ride-share race. The company had previously attempted to develop its own driverless vehicle fleet, but those plans were scrapped when a car killed a pedestrian in 2017.