Motional Says it’s Operating Self-Driving Vehicles on Public Roads



February 22, 2021

Boston-based Motional has announced it is operating driverless vehicles on public roads. Its initial testing took place in Las Vegas earlier this month and consisted of multiple driverless vehicles safely navigating intersections, unprotected turns, and interactions with road users, including pedestrians and cyclists.

The company said its two-year, self-imposed safety evaluation process included 1.5 million miles driven, more than 100,000 hours, and external review through TUV SUD, an independent technical service provider. Upon completion of its assessment, TUV SUD provided Motional with an endorsement to operate with an empty driver’s seat, and the state of Nevada granted Motional permission to do so last November.

With continued progress in 2020, the company said it has established itself as the ridesharing industry’s robotaxi fleet provider of choice, with partnerships with two ridesharing leaders (Via and Lyft), and plans to expand in major U.S. cities beginning in 2023.

“Not all driverless systems are created equal,” said Karl Iagnemma, president and CEO of Motional. “Ours is the product of decades of innovation, a relentless commitment to safety and process, more than a million miles of testing, and a rigorous external review. We’re one of the first companies in the world to go driverless. It’s a significant step on our path to making driverless vehicles a safe, reliable, and accessible reality, and a proud day for Motional.”

Motional said that during its 18-month review of systems with TUV SUD, the company’s experts interviewed employees, reviewed detailed safety architecture designs, analyzed testing processes and results, scrutinized training procedures, and reviewed the qualifications and skill of the Motional team. The external review was one part of Motional’s evaluation process, which the company also detailed in its Voluntary Safety Self-Assessment.

Testing took place on public roads with a safety operator, as well as on closed courses with and without a safety operator. Vehicles navigated thousands of scenarios, including:

  • Human-driven cars and other autonomous vehicles
  • Pedestrians, cyclists and other road actors
  • Busy intersections and unprotected turns
  • A wide range of traffic and road conditions
  • Safely-staged edge cases on closed courses.

Motional is a joint venture between Hyundai Motor Group and Aptiv, a technology provider. More details can be seen at the Motional website.

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