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Hyundai Demos Self-Driving Ioniq 5 Taxi at CES in Vegas


Hyundai released a new campaign video for the upcoming launch of its self-driving robotaxi, developed on the all-electric Ioniq 5 platform. The robocar was developed by Motional, a joint venture between Hyundai Motor Group and Aptiv, the spinoff from Delphi.

Hyundai Motional Ioniq 5 robotaxi pickup REL
Hyundai launched its Ioniq 5 robotaxi in Las Vegas at the start of CES 2023.

The video highlights the Level 4 autonomous driving capability of the Ioniq 5 robotaxi, promising that the vehicle will be plying the streets of Las Vegas by late 2023. Taxi services are big in that city, with up to 42.5 million pre-pandemic visitors per year. 

Hyundai believes that makes Las Vegas the perfect test bed for the fully autonomous taxi. Riders will be able to identify the Ioniq 5 autonomous taxi on sight by the large sensor array mounted on the roof of the car.

Hyundai states the Ioniq taxi has more than 30 advanced sensors, as well as an onboard computing system to navigate the unusual environment. Las Vegas also presents particular challenges for autonomous driving, such as unusual vehicles like stretch limousines and billboard trucks, and pedestrians in unusual costumes, who may not simply cross a street as a sober walker might do. 

Beating the odds

Hyundai Motional robotaxi driving REL
The Ioniq taxi has more than 30 advanced sensors, as well as an onboard computing system to navigate the unusual environment.

Among the many challenges that Las Vegas traffic presents is crowding and unpredictable vehicle behavior. 

Keolis, the Canadian-based transit and mobility company, discovered that fact within hours of deploying the first autonomous shuttle bus in the city’s downtown area. This reporter was aboard the shuttle when a delivery truck began backing toward the bus to negotiate a tight turn into an alley. With traffic stacked up behind the shuttle, the autonomous system had nowhere to go and the truck impacted the bus. 

While damage was minimal, the incident was quickly blown out of proportion and was manipulated as an example of the failure of autonomous technology. In fact, the fault was with the truck driver, who was cited for the collision. 

Cruise’s robotaxi service has been traversing the roads of San Francisco for months now.

Following the rollout in Vegas, the Ioniq 5 robotaxi will also be made available in Los Angeles, and eventually in other major cities throughout the U.S. and globally. Hyundai noted, “the robotaxi is already learning how to master the narrow and curvy streets of Boston, navigate the street-level light rail service and protected bicycle lanes of San Diego and manage left-side traffic in Singapore.” 

Plenty of competition

Hyundai is far from the only manufacturer working on a robotaxi solution. General Motors has its Cruise LLC subsidiary, which has been operating on a test basis in San Francisco, but has had several safety-related incidentsin the past year. Cruise robotaxis have been observed driving without headlights, blocking traffic, and having fender-bender accidents. 

Waymo’s robotaxis have also been operating in San Francisco, with development ongoing in partnership with Zeekr, which is part of Chinese parent company Geely’s holdings. The company is also looking to the commercial sector with self-driving Class 8 trucks

Waymo’s been expanding its robotaxi service, moving into San Francisco with partner Zeekr.

While they don’t produce vehicles, Nvidia has been hard at work on the technology that underlies self-driving, with an eye towards taxi services. The company is working with Cruise, Zoox, Autox, WeRide, and more on the in-car and data center infrastructure to enable and manage taxi fleets. 

In the midst of all this development, Ford and Volkswagen have opted out of the automonous taxi business, at least for the near term. The companies closed their Argo AI joint venture late last year. Both companies decided to invest more in Level 2 and Level 3 driver assistance technology rather than pursue self-driving. 

Tesla has been the foremost company touting its self-driving capabilities, often with catastrophic results as customers give more credence to the company’s claims than real-world results would justify. The company is currently under criminal investigation for those claims, as well as facing a class-action lawsuit

With so much work and testing going on, it seems inevitable that self-driving taxis, and therefore self-driving cars in general, are coming along. It remains to be seen when the technology will be mature and capable enough for general distribution. 


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