Hyundai is throwing their hat into the autonomous ride-hailing game by introducing their new BotRide service.
Set to be launched in Irvine, California on November 4th, the service will offer free rides to residents of the city.
The pilot program will use a fleet of specially equipped Kona Electrics, and is part of a collaboration with Pony.ai and Via. Pony.ai helped to develop the autonomous driving technology, while Via created the ride-sharing technology and smartphone app.
According to Hyundai, users will download the app and use their smartphone to hail a ride. Since the service allows multiple riders to share the same vehicle, they’ll will be directed to a nearby pick up or drop off point. While this isn’t ideal, Hyundai says it allows for “quick and efficient shared trips without lengthy detours, or inconvenient fixed routes and schedules.”
Hyundai didn’t say much about the vehicles, but they are equipped with an assortment of cameras and sensors. It also appears that the service will use safety drivers.
While the automaker didn’t go into specifics, they said the autonomous driving system uses the “latest sensor hardware and proprietary software to identify the precise position of surrounding vehicles, handle pedestrian traffic in urban areas, accurately monitor its surroundings, predict the behavior of other road users, and precisely plan actions accordingly.”
The goal of the pilot is to study consumer behavior in an autonomous ride-sharing environment and learn how to improve their experience. As Hyundai’s Christopher Chang explained, “We are going to learn about ecosystems, where the vehicles travel and [how to] optimize the customer experience.”