This new autonomous service will be called BotRide and begin operating in Irvine, California within the coming weeks. Despite being self-driving the service will still have drivers who are there for safety reasons. BotRide will be one of only a handful of companies currently testing their autonomous, ride-hailing services on public roads in California including Pony.ai, Zoox, AutoX, and Google's Waymo.
Consumers can download the BotRide mobile app and summon a ride which will then pick a nearby pick up spot. The Via ride-hailing service is mainly centered around shared rides and this platform hopes to achieve the same multiple rider objective. Via focuses on features like booking, passenger and car assignment, and car QR codes for identification purposes. The company also operates two other businesses including a consumer use shuttle service in Chicago, New York, and Washington DC and teams with transportation services in other cities.
Hyundai stated that BotRide is “validating its user experience in preparation for a fully driverless future.”
Hyundai didn't explain when their "driverless future" would be or what it might look like, but the company clearly sees the launch of this autonomous platform as a stepping stone toward that goal.
Hyundai's Head of Business Development, Strategy, and Technology Division, Christopher Chang, said that BotRide will be used to collect information about how consumers use autonomous ride-sharing platforms.
“The BotRide pilot represents an important step in the deployment and eventual commercialization of a growing new mobility business,” said Daniel Han, Manager, Advanced Product Strategy, for Hyundai.
Even though Hyundai is the name behind BotRide, it is Via and Pony.ai that are providing the muscle. Pony.ai has already made a name for themselves by being valued at around $1.7 billion and have already announced partnerships with both Hyundai and Toyota. The company is based out of China and currently operates both in China and California and was founded back in 2016.
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