Motional and Hyundai to collaborate to develop IONIQ 5 robotaxi in Singapore

Hyundai Motor Group and Motional, the Aptiv-Hyundai joint venture that aims to commercialize autonomous vehicles, announced plans on Tuesday to co-develop production-ready versions of the all-electric IONIQ 5 robotaxi. at the automaker’s new innovation center in Singapore, the Hyundai Motor Group Innovation Center in Singapore (HMGICS).

Motional will deploy the vehicles as part of its commercial service in the US starting in 2024. The company said the first models have arrived and are undergoing testing and validation.

Motional has been driving around prototype autonomous versions of the IONIQ SUV since March 2021, but the production vehicles will be built with all driverless technology, such as hardware and software, fully integrated into the lineup. meeting. The production vehicles also differ from the prototype versions in that they are certified under the US Federal Motor Vehicle Safety Standards (FMVSS), which the prototype models are not, according to Motional. Being FMVSS certified means that vehicles meet minimum performance requirements for design and construction to ensure the safety of occupants.

Before the current crisis, competitor Cruise was trying to get permission to mass produce his Origin robotaxi without a steering wheel or pedals (or even windshield wipers), and thus did not fall under FMVSS standards. Motional confirmed that the IONIQ 5 robotaxis has a steering wheel and pedals for a human to take over.

Motional could not confirm how many vehicles it has shipped to the US, in which markets the vehicles will be deployed, or what the production capacity of HMGICS will be.

The AV company currently operates in Las Vegas, where it runs a service on the Uber, Lyft and Via platforms. About a year ago, Motional and Uber said they would join forces in the next launch in Los Angeles, but the two don’t seem to be moving forward with those plans. Neither company responded to TechCrunch’s time to confirm. Uber and Motional are still running a pilot to test autonomous delivery in Santa Monica, but Motional lacks the permits needed to deploy an autonomous public service in California.

Singapore as a production location makes sense for Motional for a couple of reasons. First, Hyundai already assembles its IONIQ 5 commercial vehicles there, so its advanced manufacturing facilities are already in place. HMGICS also supports AV production with testing facilities and a calibration center, according to Hyundai. The Motional team will assist on site with manufacturing, diagnostics, software development, calibration and validation.

The second reason is that Motional has a history in Singapore. Motional is a joint venture between Hyundai and Aptiv, formerly Delphi Automotive, which bought another self-driving car company called NuTonomy in 2017. NuTonomy is an MIT spinout that launched a robotaxi pilot project in Singapore in 2016 .

While Motional says it is focused on the US market right now, the company is interested in expanding into international markets. Singapore, with its structured streets, small size, strict regulatory environment and government support for AVs, is undoubtedly an attractive potential market for AV companies.

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