Autonomous vehicle company Motional has announced plans to bring driverless taxis to local streets this month as part of an expansion for the Boston based company.
The company is doubling its 100 person Santa Monica workforce as it gears up operations across the state and testing of their latest vehicle will begin by the end of the month around their Santa Monica office and operations facility.
“Los Angeles has long been an important part of Motional’s global operations that span across the U.S. and Asia, and today we’re happy to announce that we’re doubling down on our West Coast footprint. This expansion is the latest in our growth trajectory and will position Motional with the talent, testing capabilities, and R&D resources we need to deliver on our commercialization roadmap,” said Karl Iagnemma, Motional’s President and CEO last week.
Motional has had a presence in Santa Monica for over five years and officials said the area is perfect for their industry as it combines a deep pool of talent with a highly unique driving environment that includes multimodal road use, high-traffic and complex intersections, among other factors, that their systems can benefit from.
The company said it’s work and the larger prospect of autonomous vehicles will completely change day to day life. According to Motional, 94% of automotive accidents are caused by human error and autonomous vehicles can eliminate those crashes. The system could also provide more accessible mobility options and contribute to the environment by making transit more efficient.
The company’s local expansion is driven by a $4 billion joint venture between Hyundai Motor Group and Aptiv in 2020 but the business can trace its DNA to some of the industry pioneers.
The company’s roots are in a pair of founding startups, nuTonomy and Ottomatika who were both acquired by Aptiv which is itself now part of Motional.
Over the years, the company was the first to drive a fully-autonomous vehicle cross-country and had the world’s first robotaxi pilot in Singapore. They currently operate the most established public robotaxi fleet in Las Vegas and will be expanding that service to include pooled rides. They are also on track to launch a fully driverless robotaxi service (with no one behind the wheel) with Lyft in multiple U.S. markets in two years.
Motional’s Santa Monica offices focus on the machine learning and hardware groups.
“Along with a bigger team, we’re also expanding our R&D operations in Los Angeles and will open a new operational facility and begin public road mapping and testing this month, with our next-generation robotaxi,” said the company in a statement. “This will mark the first time Motional is testing in Los Angeles and the activity will complement our ongoing testing in Boston, Pittsburgh, Las Vegas, and Singapore.”