Through a collaboration between Hyundai, Pony.ai and Via, Irvine, Calif., residents can use an app to hail an autonomous Hyundai KONA Electric SUV directly from their smartphone.
The companies last week unveiled BotRide, which they describe as a shared, on-demand, autonomous vehicle service operating on public roads.
Starting on Monday, a fleet of self-driving KONAs will provide a free ride-sharing service to the Irvine community.
The goal of the pilot program is to study consumer behavior, including that of college students, in an autonomous ride-sharing environment, said Hyundai Motor Co. head of business development, strategy and technology division Christopher Chang.
“We are going to learn about ecosystems, where the vehicles travel and optimize the customer experience,” Chang said in a news release.
He continued, “BotRide is another example of Hyundai's ongoing efforts to actively build expertise in mobility technology as well as the company’s commitment to providing more user-friendly mobility services to customers.”
To build the self-driving system, Hyundai partnered with Pony.ai. To create the BotRide on-demand ridesharing technology and application, the automaker partnered with Via.
Riders can use the BotRide app (iOS and Android) to hail the autonomous ride. Through Via’s advanced algorithms, multiple riders can share the same vehicle, which features Pony.ai autonomous vehicle technology.
Directing passengers to nearby stops for pick up and drop off, the app allows for shared trips without long detours or inconvenient fixed routes and schedules, the companies say.
Through integrated Hyundai and Pony.ai technologies, the BotRide vehicles navigate complex road scenarios safely, according to the companies.
Equipped with Pony.ai’s latest sensor hardware and proprietary software, the companies say the vehicles can identify the exact position of surrounding vehicles, handle pedestrian traffic in urban areas, accurately monitor surroundings, predict other road users’ behavior and plan actions based on those tasks.
BotRide launches with a service area covering several residential, commercial, and institutional points of interest. The companies say that because BotRide’s technology prioritizes passenger-to-system interactions such as automated onboard passenger verification, that helps riders get familiar with technologies that they expect will be common in a future of autonomous mobility.
“Through BotRide, Hyundai is leveraging cutting-edge autonomous vehicle and mobility technologies to introduce a new, safe, and convenient form of transportation to the public,” Hyundai Motor America manager of advanced product strategy Daniel Han said.
He continued, “The BotRide pilot represents an important step in the deployment and eventual commercialization of a growing new mobility business. In addition to the technology partners powering BotRide, the broader city and community ecosystem have also played an important role in making BotRide possible. The BotRide pilot can serve as an example of how cities and companies can come together to truly enable smart cities and smart transportation systems of the future.”