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Hyundai teams up with Pony.ai and Via for BotRide free ride-sharing pilot in California

David Murphy

Car maker Hyundai, in collaboration with Pony.ai and Via, has unveiled BotRide, a shared, on-demand, autonomous vehicle service operating on public roads.

Starting on 4 November, a fleet of self-driving Hyundai KONA Electric SUVs will provide a free ride-sharing service to the local community of Irvine, California. Car maker Hyundai, in collaboration with Pony.ai and Via, has unveiled BotRide, a shared, on-demand, autonomous vehicle service operating on public roads. Starting on 4 November, a fleet of self-driving Hyundai KONA Electric SUVs will provide a free ride-sharing service to the local community of Irvine, California.

"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 at, 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."

Hyundai partnered with Pony.ai to build the self-driving system and with Via to create the BotRide on-demand ridesharing technology and application. Using the BotRide app for iOS and Android, riders can hail an autonomous Hyundai KONA Electric SUV directly from their smartphone. Via's algorithms enable multiple riders to share the same vehicle, outfitted with Pony.ai autonomous vehicle technology.

The app directs passengers to nearby stops for pick up and drop off, allowing for quick and efficient shared trips without lengthy detours, or inconvenient fixed routes and schedules.Integrated Hyundai and Pony.ai technologies enable the BotRide vehicles to navigate complex road scenarios safely.

The vehicles are equipped with Pony.ai's 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 behaviour of other road users, and precisely plan actions accordingly. In addition to self-driving capabilities, BotRide is also validating its user experience in preparation for a fully driverless future.

BotRide launches with multiple popular destinations where a passenger may hail a ride using the BotRide app. The service area covers several residential, commercial, and institutional points of interest. BotRide's technology prioritizes passenger-to-system interactions such as automated onboard passenger verification, giving riders the chance to familiarize themselves with technologies expected to become commonplace in an autonomous mobility future.

"Through BotRide, Hyundai is leveraging cutting-edge autonomous vehicle and mobility technologies to introduce a new, safe, and convenient form of transportation to the public," said Daniel Han, manager, Advanced Product Strategy at Hyundai Motor America. "The BotRide pilot represents an important step in the deployment and eventual commercialization of a growing new mobility business. In addition to the technology partners powering BotRide, the broader city and community ecosystem have also played an important role in making BotRide possible. The BotRide pilot can serve as an example of how cities and companies can come together to truly enable smart cities and smart transportation systems of the future."

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