Motional Expands Operations in Las Vegas ahead of 2023 Robotaxi launch

Motional Expands Operations in Las Vegas ahead of 2023 Robotaxi launch

In the run-up to its projected 2023 commercial deployment of robotaxis, autonomous vehicle firm Motional is expanding its operations and personnel numbers in Las Vegas, including tripling the size of its testing facility.

The company has been in Las Vegas for nearly four years and is the result of a $4 billion joint venture between Aptiv and Hyundai. Through cooperation with Lyft, Motional began testing its autonomous vehicle in Las Vegas. During the 2018 CES electronic trade show in Las Vegas, the two businesses kicked off what was expected to be a weeklong trial program to give rides in autonomous vehicles on the Lyft network.

The cooperation precedes the Hyundai joint venture. Motional was known as Aptiv Autonomous Mobility Group at the time. That short-term experiment, which always featured a human safety driver, was extended and continues to exist today. According to the Lyft app, the initiative had provided over 100,000 paid self-driving rides in Aptiv’s — now Motional’s — self-driving vehicles as of February 2020. The number of paid rides taken through the Lyft app has not been updated by Motional.

Motional’s operations in Nevada go beyond its Lyft collaboration. In Nevada, the business also conducts continuing testing on public highways.

The company wants to double the size of its operations center in Las Vegas as part of its expansion plans. This means that Motional is now using its full 130,000-square-foot technical center, which it established some years ago, to house its fleet of autonomous cars as well as an engineering team dedicated to software and hardware system research and development, validation, and mapping.

Motional is also hiring over 100 new staff as part of this growth. In Las Vegas, the company currently employs over 250 individuals. Motional is expanding its operations in Las Vegas, including a closed track that will allow four times the amount of testing, in anticipation of its next-generation robotaxi, which will be based on the all-electric Hyundai Ioniq 5. The expansion, according to Motional President and CEO Karl Iagnemma, would allow the company to speed up testing ahead of the commercial launch of its completely driverless robotaxis in 2023.

The news in Las Vegas comes just a month after Motional extended its operations in California. In August, the business said that it would open a new operations center in Los Angeles to support testing on public roads, as well as hire more engineers and open a Silicon Valley office.

The investment in California, as well as this latest plan to expand operations in Nevada, comes on the heels of a hiring spree that has pushed Motional’s total headcount to over 1,000 people, as well as an expansion into Seoul and a December announcement to launch fully driverless robotaxi services in major U.S. cities using the Lyft ride-hailing network in 2023.