Motional, the Hyundai-Aptiv autonomous-driving joint venture, and app-based passenger shuttle provider Via Transportation Inc. are partnering to provide public, on-demand shared robotaxi rides in the first half of next year.
The partnership combines Motional's driverless-vehicle expertise with Via's booking, routing, assignment, customer-experience and fleet-management expertise to deliver a shared robotaxi ride by mid-2021.
Motional and Via on Tuesday said their partnership will serve as a blueprint "to inform how driverless vehicles can be integrated into mass transit networks and optimized for pooled rides."
The companies will announce their initial launch market later, the statement said, though it is expected it will launch in one of Motional's existing U.S. markets.
"Via and Motional share a long-term vision to change how the world moves and are building the digital infrastructure to help self-driving vehicles reach their full potential as part of large-scale transit networks," the companies said in a statement. "This requires vehicles to be on-demand, optimally routed and shared by multiple passengers."
Via, based in New York, operates a variety of services in the U.S. and abroad. In January, Via announced that it created an on-demand microtransit system in Sacramento, Calif. Via also has a partnership with the city of Detroit, and it launched an on-demand public transit service in St. Louis in partnership with St. Louis Metro Transit in June.
The Miami-Dade County Mayor's Office and the Miami-Dade Department of Transportation announced the launch of its on-demand public transit service in partnership with Via last week.
The Hyundai-Aptiv JV, headquartered in Boston, was named Motional in August, a combination of the words "motion" and "emotional." The JV was announced in September 2019 and completed this March.
Motional had to pause self-driving ride-share service operations in Las Vegas this year because of the coronavirus pandemic but resumed operations last week.
Motional and Via said they are working on measures such as the use of personal protective equipment and partitions and sanitizing amid the pandemic.
"This partnership comes at an especially significant moment, as COVID reshapes our views on transportation and consumers demand more, flexible and varied options," Iagnemma said in Tuesday's statement.