Motional self-driving car in Las Vegas, where cars are being tested. Photo courtesy of Motional.

Just a week ago, Pittsburgh self-driving vehicle startup Aurora made a huge splash by taking on the entirety of Uber’s self-driving car operations. Now the other giant ride-hailing service, Lyft, has announced that they’re partnering with Motional to have fully autonomous vehicles (with no safety driver) on the road by 2023.

The recently-renamed Motional was created through a partnership between Hyundai Motor Group and Aptiv, which has had its main research and development office in Pittsburgh since 2013. Last year, they moved their office from O’Hara Twp. to Hazelwood Green.

“This agreement is a testament to our global leadership in driverless technology,” says Karl Iagnemma, president and CEO of Motional. “We’re at the frontier of transportation innovation, moving robotaxis from research to road. Our aim is to not only build safe, reliable and accessible driverless vehicles, but to deliver them at significant scale.  We’re partnering with Lyft to do exactly that.”

Since 2018, Lyft has provided more than 100,000 paid rides in self-driving cars with Motional/Aptiv. Customers have responded with overwhelming approval: 94% would ride in one again.

Those rides — and the rides happening right now on Pittsburgh roads — all have a driver at the wheel to take over if necessary. By 2023, Lyft and Motional hope to field robotaxis that need no humans driving at all.

“After pioneering a self-driving pilot with Motional for the last three years, it’s fitting that our first commercial open platform deployment partnership for driverless cars would be with them,” says Raj Kapoor, chief strategy officer for Lyft. “This partnership represents a shared mobility vision, where human drivers and self-driving cars work together to empower people to get where they need to go, without having to own a car.”

Motional also has offices in Boston, Las Vegas and Singapore.

The leaders of Motional participated in the DARPA Grand Challenge and founded two of the first self-driving car startups, nuTonomy and Ottomatika (which was formed at Carnegie Mellon). The company is currently hiring in Pittsburgh at a brisk pace, particularly software engineers and research scientists.

Michael Machosky

Michael Machosky is a writer and journalist with 18 years of experience writing about everything from development news, food and film to art, travel, books and music. He lives in Greenfield with his wife, Shaunna, and 10-year old son.