Hyundai Motor Company plans to put a fleet of self-driving Kona electric vehicles on the roads of Irvine, California. This is part of a partnership with Pony.ia and Via to make these cars available to the public for free through an on-demand ride-sharing service called BotRide.
- A fleet of self-driving Kona EVs will soon be available in Irvine, California.
- This is all through a partnership between Hyundai, Pony.ai, and Via.
- The program tests the technology and human interactions with that technology.
The partnership sees Hyundai providing the Kona, Pony.ia providing the self-driving technology, and Via supplying the on-demand ridesharing technology and app. BotRide is available for both iOS and Android devices and will let users hail a self-driving Kona beginning November 4.
Hail a Kona with BotRide for a taste of our self-driving future. (Photo: Hyundai Motor Company)
Will people like the ride?
This isn’t a huge program, but a small test case serving a few hundred residents in Irvine, California, including college students. Rather than simply being a test of the technology to see how well it functions, the goal of BotRide is two-fold. It will also see how humans interact with self-driving technologies.
Instead of simply picking up passengers and driving away, BotRide puts a priority on passenger-to-system interaction. This includes an on-board passenger verification system that lets riders get accustomed to the technologies that will be commonplace when autonomous vehicles are the norm rather than a novelty.
BotRide also put a priority on convenience letting multiple riders share the same vehicle. It directs them to nearby stops for pickup and drop-off to make the process more efficient rather than making multiple stops for nearby customers. This lets it operate more efficiently without fixed routes and schedules.
The service launches with a choice of popular locations where users can hail a ride and covers both residential, commercial, and institutional areas. It can handle pedestrian traffic in urban areas, predict the behavior of others on the road, and monitor its surroundings to safely deliver passengers to their destination.
WHY THIS MATTERS
While self-driving vehicles are testing in multiple locations, this program is different by adding in a focus on the passenger experience. Hopping into a car that drives itself is a new experience for most people. Understanding how they react, what they like, and what they don’t like will be key to gaining acceptance as this technology becomes mainstream.