With agreements in place with ridesharing companies Via and Lyft (NASDAQ: LYFT), and backed by the expertise of Hyundai Motor Corp. (LSE: HYUD.LN) and Aptiv, Motional has taken another step in its desire to be the autonomous vehicle of choice. The company announced that it not only is testing driverless vehicles – with no drivers – on roadways but that it has secured a key outside endorsement of its product from consulting firm TÜV SÜD.
“Not all driverless systems are created equal. 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,” Karl Iagnemma, president and CEO of Motional, said. “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 announced it is actively testing driverless vehicles in Las Vegas – without anyone in the driver’s seat. The Boston-based autonomous vehicle company began the testing this month. To reach this point, Motional has accumulated 1.5 million miles of testing and a two-year safety evaluation process that took hundreds of employees more than 100,000 hours to complete. To ensure the process was rigorous and effective, the company sought external review from TÜV SÜD, an independent technical service provider with extensive experience assessing driverless technology. Motional gave the company access to the company’s proprietary systems, technology and operations.
TÜV SÜD endorsed Motional’s ability to operate safely with no one in the driver’s seat. The state of Nevada in November granted Motional permission to test driverless vehicles. The vehicles operate with a “safety steward” in the passenger seat. The steward has the ability to stop the vehicle, but Motional said as of yet, a steward has not had to intervene.
Motional is working with ridesharing companies Via and Lyft (NASDAQ: LYFT), and Lyft is confident that it will be able to start deploying Motional vehicles on select routes by 2023. To date, more than 100,000 autonomous rides have been offered with zero at-fault incidents, Motional said.
“We believe the future of transportation is as-a-service, and we are the only company in North America that has a seamless multimodal transportation platform that can replace car ownership,” Lyft co-founder and CEO Logan Green said during the company’s Feb. 9 earnings call. “We expect autonomous vehicles to accelerate this transition. They will transform the ridesharing industry and their business.”
Before issuing its endorsement, TÜV SÜD officials spent 18 months reviewing Motional’s systems, interviewing employees, reviewing safety architecture designs and analyzing testing processes and results.