Hyundai launching autonomous MOD ride-sharing pilot on public roads

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Hyundai, in collaboration with Pony.ai and Via, is launching BotRide, a shared, mobility on-demand (MOD), autonomous vehicle (AV) service operating on public roads in California.

Starting on November 4, a fleet of self-driving Hyundai Kona Electric SUVs will provide a free ride-sharing service to the local community in the city of Irvine. The South Korean automaker partnered with AV software developer Pony.ai to build the self-driving system and with public transport service provider Via to create the BotRide on-demand ridesharing technology and application. Using the BotRide app, riders can hail an autonomous Kona EV directly from their smartphone. Via’s advanced algorithms enable multiple riders to share the same vehicle, outfitted with Pony’s AV technology. The app directs passengers to nearby stops for pick up and drop off, allowing for quick and efficient shared trips without lengthy detours, or inconvenient fixed routes and schedules.

Integrated Hyundai and Pony technologies enable the BotRide vehicles to navigate complex road scenarios safely. The vehicles are equipped with Pony’s latest sensor hardware and proprietary software to identify the precise position of surrounding vehicles, handle pedestrian traffic in urban areas, accurately monitor its surroundings, predict the behaviour of other road users, and precisely plan actions accordingly. In addition to self-driving capabilities, BotRide is validating its user experience in preparation for a fully driverless future. The new MOD service launches with multiple popular destinations where a passenger may hail a ride using the BotRide app. The service area covers several residential, commercial, and institutional points of interest in Irvine.

BotRide’s technology prioritizes passenger-to-system interactions such as automated onboard passenger verification, giving riders the chance to familiarize themselves with technologies expected to become commonplace in an autonomous mobility future. Via’s platform and smartphone app connects multiple passengers who are headed the same way, allowing riders to seamlessly share a BotRide vehicle. The company’s technology is deployed worldwide through dozens of partner projects with private and public transport agencies and operators, taxi fleets, and other organizations to power new on-demand mobility services.

“The pilot introduces BotRide to several hundred Irvine residents, including college students. The goal is to study consumer behaviour in an autonomous ride-sharing environment,” said Christopher Chang, Hyundai’s head of business development, strategy and technology division. “We are going to learn about ecosystems, where the vehicles travel, and optimize the customer experience. BotRide, is another example of our ongoing efforts to actively build expertise in mobility technology, as well as the company’s commitment to providing more user-friendly mobility services to customers.”

Daniel Han, manager of advanced product strategy at Hyundai Motor America, added, “Through BotRide, we are leveraging cutting-edge autonomous vehicle and mobility technologies to introduce a new, safe, and convenient form of transportation to the public. The BotRide pilot represents an important step in the deployment and eventual commercialization of a growing new mobility business. In addition to the technology partners powering BotRide, the broader city and community ecosystem have also played an important role in making BotRide possible. The BotRide pilot can serve as an example of how cities and companies can come together to truly enable smart cities and smart transportation systems of the future.”

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Adam joined the company in 1994, and has been News Editor of TTT since 2009. In his other role as Circulation Manager, he helped create the original Traffic Technology International distribution list 23 years ago, and has been working on it ever since. Outside of work, he is a keen fisherman, runs a drumming band, and plays an ancient version of cricket.

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