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," said Hyundai head of business development, strategy and technology division, Christopher Chang.

"The goal is to study consumer behaviour in an autonomous ride-sharing environment. We are going to learn about ecosystems, where the vehicles travel and optimise the customer experience."

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 (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.

Integrated Hyundai and Pony.ai technologies enable the BotRide vehicles to navigate complex road scenarios safely. These vehicles are equipped with Pony.ai's sensor hardware and proprietary software to identify the position of surrounding vehicles, handle pedestrian traffic in urban areas, accurately monitor its surroundings, predict the behaviour of other road users and plan actions accordingly.

In addition to self-driving capabilities, BotRide is 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 prioritises passenger-to-system interactions such as automated onboard passenger verification, giving riders the chance to familiarise themselves with technologies expected to become commonplace in an autonomous mobility future.

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