Next week, on-demand autonomous vehicles will begin operating on public roads in Irvine, California. Called BotRide, the pilot program comes from a partnership between Hyundai, Chinese vehicle company Pony.ai, and on-demand transit system Via.
BotRide will be covering a variety of residential, commercial and industrial destinations around Irvine including the UCI campus. The goal of the project is to study consumer behavior in an autonomous ride-sharing environment.
As far as the vehicles go, BotRide will be using the 100% electric Hyundai Kona SUVs. They’ll be equipped with Pony.ai’s self-driving software and sensor hardware which will help the SUVs navigate the roads, 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.
Customers Can Hail Ride with Via app
Customers can hail a ride from their smartphone by using Via’s smartphone app. They choose a destination, pick-up point, and a vehicle will be on its way. Similar to UberPool, multiple riders can also share a vehicle if they happen to be going in the same direction. The app’s algorithms will coordinate stops for pick up and drop off to help avoid lengthy detours. Routes are flexible and can adjust depending on traffic.
“The pilot introduces BotRide to several hundred Irvine residents, including college students. The goal is to study consumer behavior in an autonomous ride-sharing environment,” said Christopher Chang, head of business development, strategy and technology division, Hyundai Motor Company. “We are going to learn about ecosystems, where the vehicles travel and optimize the customer experience. BotRide, is another example of Hyundai’s ongoing efforts to actively build expertise in mobility technology as well as the company’s commitment to providing more user-friendly mobility services to customers.”
BotRide Will Run November to January in Irvine
To make sure it has the correct passenger, each vehicle will feature automated onboard rider verification via QR codes. Passenger-to-system interactions will help riders familiarize themselves with the new technology. As a safety precaution, a human co-pilot will be in each vehicle during the testing.
BotRide will be running from November 4, 2019, to January 31, 2020. In order to access the program, riders will have to pre-register. All rides for approved BotRide beta users are free of charge. More information can be found on the company’s website.