Uber Partnering With Motional to Provide Autonomous Rides

Uber is getting back into the robotaxi business. Not long after selling off its autonomous vehicle research division to a startup named Aurora, the transportation app is partnering with Motional.

In a 10-year agreement, Uber will work with Motional to provide autonomous rides and deliveries. Based on the initial deal, Uber is utilizing Hyundai’s autonomous Ioniq 5 EV. The first wave of this deployment will take place in select cities in the U.S. before expanding. Autonomous rides and deliveries are expected to begin later this year.

In late 2021, Uber announced its partnership to bring autonomous food deliveries to its users in 2022. The partnership sees Uber utilizing the autonomous vehicles in exchange for data provided to Motional to best allocate vehicles. According to Engadget, Motional states its autonomous vehicles will allow for “reduced vehicle downtime and unnecessary miles travelled.” It’s also expected that the use of autonomy will result in lower fares and shorter wait times for travellers.

“This agreement will be instrumental to the wide-scale adoption of robotaxis,” Motional CEO Karl Iagnemma said in a statement. “Motional now has unparalleled access to millions of riders and a roadmap to scale significantly over the next ten years.”

Motional is a joint venture between Hyundai and Aptiv, hence the use of the Ioniq 5 EV. The company is also working alongside Lyft to provide public testing of autonomous ride-hailing in Las Vegas and Los Angeles.

Of course, the deal is largely still in its inception period. There’s no indication when or if this deal will expand into Canada. As with many other deals regarding vehicle autonomy, it’s largely dependent on provincial and federal approvals.

What’s interesting to see is how quickly Uber is stepping back into the autonomy sector. Having sold its internal division, it appears as though Uber is more comfortable leveraging the expertise of partnering businesses. How this will pan out over the next few years remains to be seen but it inspires hope that autonomous Uber rides is on the horizon.