Uber Offers Self-Driving Taxis To Las Vegas Riders
LAS VEGAS – According to a news release issued Wednesday, ride-hailing giant Uber is now offering Las Vegas clients the opportunity to hail self-driving taxis produced by another company through its app. According to the statement, the autonomous vehicles are now only accessible for ride-hailing in Las Vegas, but there are plans to extend to Los Angeles “at a later date.”
Motional’s driverless robocars are delivered with two “vehicle operators” behind the wheel to oversee the technology and provide additional support to riders. Uber has stated that it intends to introduce a fully autonomous service with Motional in 2023.
Before the journey is confirmed, users who request a ride will be given an autonomous car if one is available. If a customer opts in, Motional will send a self-driving Hyundai Ioniq 5 mid-sized hatchback to pick them up.
Motional has been providing robotaxi services in Las Vegas through Uber competitor Lyft since 2018, however, journeys before 2020 were provided by parent company Aptiv.
Uber and Motional first announced their non-exclusive 10-year deal in October, two years after Uber sold its own self-driving section, Advanced Technologies Group, to San Francisco-based startup Aurora. The sale came after a five-year development period that was marred by litigation and a tragic collision.
Waymo, Google’s self-driving car division, sued Uber in February 2017 for alleged trade secret and intellectual property theft, with Waymo getting approximately $245 million in Uber shares as part of the settlement and Uber promising not to exploit private Waymo knowledge. A month later, one of the ride-hailing company’s test vehicles struck and killed a pedestrian in Tempe, Arizona, dealing another blow to its self-driving program. Behind the wheel, an Uber test driver, who was supposed to monitor the vehicle and intervene if necessary, was watching a television show on her phone.
Uber is aiming to restructure its economic model away from being completely reliant on its massive fleet of independently contracted drivers, a business strategy that has caused the company legal headaches in recent years. The Biden administration is currently proposing a new labor rule that could classify millions of these gig workers as employees, putting the low-cost labor models that have propelled Silicon Valley heavyweights like Uber in jeopardy.
Credits: Fox 5 Vegas
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