Your Next Vegas Lyft Driver May End up Being an Autonomous Vehicle

So long as you stick to The Strip

Keep an eye out for autonomous cars the next time you're in Las Vegas, thanks to a partnership between Lyft and autonomous vehicle manufacturer Motional.

Perhaps it's not surprising that Las Vegas would be a testing ground for autonomous vehicle (AV) rideshares. Especially seeing as Nevada is one of the U.S. states that has taken steps to legalize AVs on public roads. And that's exactly what's happened, with Lyft incorporating some of Motional's IONIQ 5 all-electric AVs into its Vegas network.

IONIQ 5 on the road render


The IONIQ 5, developed with the help of Motional's parent company, Hyundai, has been designed as a "ride-hail vehicle" first and foremost. It's mid-sized to provide more room for passengers and offers several charging outlets in case anyone needs to juice up their smartphone or other devices.

And because the IONIQ 5 is made to work with Lyft's network, it offers some features you may not find when jumping in a standard ride. According to Motional, the Lyft app can unlock the AV's doors once it's in place, and the car won't start moving until you give the okay from your phone. Though the app isn't a requirement—the IONIQ 5 also has built-in touch screens that can be used to start the trip, call customer support, or get more travel information.

IONIQ 5 interior mockup


Don't expect to be driven around The Strip without human supervision just yet, though. While Motional is confident in its AV intelligence, a human will still be in the driver's seat. Though their presence is more of a precaution than a requirement for getting to your destination—kind of like a driving instructor poised to take over if necessary.

Motional's IONIQ 5 robotaxis are now available via Lyft's rideshare network but are currently limited to locations along the Las Vegas Strip. They may be confined to Vegas for the time being, but both companies expect to begin going driverless at the start of next year and expand the service to other US cities throughout 2023.

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