Hyundai, in collaboration with Pony.ai and Via, unveiled BotRide on October 25 – a shared, on-demand, autonomous vehicle service operating on public roads. Starting on November 4, 2019, till January 31, 2020, a fleet of self-driving Hyundai KONA Electric SUVs will provide a free ride-sharing service to the local community of Irvine, California.
“The pilot introduces BotRide to several hundred Irvine residents, including college students. The goal is to study consumer behavior in an autonomous ride-sharing environment,” said Christopher Chang, head of business development, strategy and technology division, Hyundai Motor Company. “We are going to learn about ecosystems, where the vehicles travel and optimize the customer experience.”
Hyundai partnered with Sequoia-backed autonomous mobility startup Pony.ai to build the self-driving system, and with public mobility solutions company Via to create the BotRide on-demand ridesharing technology and application. Using the BotRide app (available on iOS and Android), riders can hail an autonomous Hyundai KONA Electric SUV directly from their smartphone. Via’s algorithms enable multiple riders to share the same vehicle, outfitted with Pony.ai autonomous vehicle technology. The app directs passengers to nearby stops for pick up and drop off, which the Hyundai says allows for shared trips without lengthy detours, or inconvenient fixed routes and schedules.
The automotive manufacturer also claims that integrated Hyundai and Pony.ai technologies enable the BotRide vehicles to navigate complex road scenarios safely. These vehicles are equipped with Pony.ai’s 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 behavior of other road users, and plan actions accordingly.
In addition to self-driving capabilities, the program is validating its user experience in preparation for a fully driverless future.
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BotRide launches with multiple popular destinations where a passenger may hail a ride using the app. The service area covers several residential, commercial, and institutional points of interest. The 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.
“Through BotRide, Hyundai is leveraging cutting-edge autonomous vehicle and mobility technologies to introduce a new, safe, and convenient form of transportation to the public,” said Daniel Han, manager, Advanced Product Strategy, Hyundai Motor America. “This pilot represents an important step in the deployment and eventual commercialization of a growing new mobility business, and can serve as an example of how cities and companies can come together to enable smart cities and smart transportation systems of the future.”