It’s now possible for the first time to book rides in self-driving cars using the Uber app, though only in Las Vegas at present.
The self-driving cars are robotaxis deployed by Hyundai-backed self-driving technology company Motional.
Motional’s robotaxis, based on the Ioniq 5 electric crossover, have already been active on the Uber Eats network in Los Angeles, as well as the network of rival ride-hailing company Lyft in both Las Vegas and Los Angeles. The vehicles still have a safety driver but Motional expects them to go fully driverless in 2023.
Uber users in Las Vegas looking to ride in one of Motional’s robotaxis need to select UberX or Uber Comfort Electric options for a chance to be matched with a robotaxi. If one is available, the customer will need to do a final opt-in before the trip is confirmed.
Together, Uber and Motional plan to create over the next 10 years one of the largest fleets of robotaxis spanning multiple U.S. cities. After Las Vegas, Motional’s robotaxis will be added to Uber’s network in Los Angeles, though timing hasn’t been announced. Additional cities will also be announced at a later date.
Uber originally intended to develop its own fleet of robotaxis, but the company sold its self-driving division to Motional rival Aurora in 2020 following incidents that included a pedestrian being hit and killed by one of its prototypes and one of its former engineers pleading guilty to stealing trade secrets while working at Google.