Motional is a joint venture between Hyundai and Aptiv that specializes in designing and building automated vehicles. It is categorized as software and autonomous enterprise to make driver-less vehicles become an accessible reality that is both reliable and safe transportation. If you've not yet heard about this high-tech startup, here are 20 things you didn't know about Motional.
1. How Motional began
Motional formed as a $4 billion joint venture between Hyundai Motor Group and Aptiv in March of 2020, and then officially unveiled its new name and brand in August. Motional’s CEO and President, Karl Iagnemma, co-founded nuTonomy in 2013 out of MIT, which was acquired by Aptiv in 2017.
2. Motional is moving Hyundai and Aptiv's autonomous technology forward
Although Motional is fairly new as an entity, the work that it carries on is merely a continuation of the autonomous technology research and development that has been ongoing for the past two decades. Only the name of the company is different. It was formed by Aptiv and the Hyundai Motor Group to work on advancing autonomous technology and improving the existing platforms.
3. Motional's executive team
Karl Iagnemma is president and chief executive officer. He currently sits on 2 boards and has founded one organization. The rest of the team can be found on Motional's site.
4. Motional uses complex technologies for its website
The Motional website actively uses 20 technologies to power its website. Although users enjoy a smooth and seamless browsing experience, there is a complicated array of different technologies at work behind the scenes, powering the experience. The technologies include SPF, Viewport Meta, an iPhone Mobile Compatible, and several others.
5. Motional gets several thousand views a month
Motional has attracted a good amount of interest because of its unique technology, however, statistics show that interest in the company has taken a sharp decline. Within the past 30 days, the number of monthly web visits has declined by 13.97 percent. It is the most popular in the United State with 74 percent of the visitors originating from this country with a 4.71 percent decline in the numbers of visitors. Fifteen percent of the web traffic comes from Taiwan, five percent from Canada, which shows a remarkable 20.99 percent growth in monthly visitors. Four percent of the web traffic comes from Indonesia, and three percent from Lebanon.
6. Motional has a complicated history
According to Wikipedia, Motional is a company that has a complicated history. Some components were formed in 2013 while others were brought together in March of 2020. Hyundai Motor Group and Aptiv, an auto supplier went in on a joint venture to form the company. It started as two autonomous driving companies. This includes Ottomatika, a Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania-based company, and NuTonomy, a Boston, Massachusetts-based enterprise. Ottomatika was acquired by Delphi, which is now called Aptiv. NuTonomy as acquired by Delphi Technologies. The headquarters of Motional is based in Boston, Massachusetts with testing for its latest vehicles taking place in Las Vegas, Nevada. It also has an operational unit in Santa Monica, California.
7. Motional is expanding its workforce
According to LinkedIn, Motional employs 836 staff members in its current workforce. We also learned that the company is adding several new positions to the company. There are currently 288 job openings available. This represents a sizeable addition to the size of the operation and it tells us that there is a massive expansion taking place within the company at this time. Many of the job openings are in Santa Monica, California with some in Los Angeles, California, in Boston, Massachusetts, and in Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania. There are also openings in Singapore.
8. Motional is one of the few companies testing autonomous vehicles
According to The Verge, one of the things that makes Motional a newsworthy business recently is the fact that it has been testing autonomous vehicles on public roads. The tests have been taking place in Las Vegas on its public streets without drivers placed behind the steering wheel. These tests were conducted in February of 2021. Motional received approval from the state of Nevada to perform the tests without a human driver. The company has tested several driverless vehicles to gauge their safety when interacting with other users on the road which includes cyclists, drivers, and pedestrians. It has made unprotected turns and has navigated intersections with busy traffic.
9. Motional put a passenger in the seat during testing
While it might sound scary for the general public of Las Vegas, to test an autonomous vehicle without a driver behind the wheel, there were safety measures set in place. There was a human being sitting in the passenger seat at all times during the testing. These people were equipped with the ability to take over controls of the car and stopping it at any time if intervention would have been required. Motional was happy to report that not once was human intervention required. The vehicles have only been tested in residential areas of Las Vegas, so far.
10. Motional hired a third-party safety evaluator
One of Motional's goals t this time is to test the safety of autonomous vehicles. This is why the testing on public roads has commenced. It hired a technical service provider named TUV SUD of Germany, as a third party to conduct the testing. After the German-based firm conducted thorough testing runs of the autonomous vehicles, they endorsed the plans that Motional had set in place for the driverless operation of the vehicles.
11. Motional is a part of the Level 4 club
Level 4 relates to the high-driving automation of the technology not the companies that have received permission to test on public roads. The SAE International definitions for the different levels are here.
12. Motional created the first Robotaxi
Motional has an operation in Singapore. This is where the engineers of the firm developed and built the very first robotaxi in the world. It is also the first company to make a cross-country trip in a fully autonomous vehicle from New York, to San Francisco.
13. Motional has an agreement with Lyft
This is a bit further down the road, pending more stringent safety testing. This however is a concept that Motional believes is in the future. Motional has been testing autonomous taxis in Las Vegas for two years now, however, these vehicles are equipped with a human safety driver to monitor their progress. This is the partnership that it has with Lyft. The companies have completed more than one hundred thousand trips so far.
14. Aptiv has two agreements with Lyft
Aptiv is part of a joint venture with Hyundai for Motional. It has two separate agreements with the Lyft company. One is for its level 4 vehicles and the other is a different agreement to provide vehicles for its ride-hailing program. They keep the two distinctly separate to avoid any confusion among the public. Earlier this year, Motional announced the IONIQ 5 will be the platform for its robotaxi service with Lyft. The vehicles that are used for the autonomous have a different outward appearance than those used to provide public rides.
15. Motional maybe moving towards logistics services
According to Techcrunch, Motional's chief executive officer Karl Iagnemma shared that Motional plans to continue on its current trajectory, but it may be adding to the type of technology that it provides as a service. They're seriously looking into the potential for becoming involved in logistics. The information was shared at the TechCrunch 2021 Mobility Event. The basis of the technology that is used by Motional has multiple possible applications.
16. Motional may become involved with autonomous trucking
Iagnemma also alluded to the possibility that there is more coming from Motional in the new few months and years. The company is looking into other ways to use its core technology. Another possible use besides logistics is for autonomous trucking. While it has not yet entered into this niche, it is a consideration.
17. Something big is brewing at Motional
With many options available for its unique technology, Motional is also considering entering into some other industries that they're keeping a secret right now. Iagnemma stated that the company is not yet ready to make any official announcements, but they are looking into several other optional uses for their unique technology. This makes a lot of sense when you consider the fact that they're hiring almost 300 new positions. That indicates that there is going to be a big push and expansion of some type.
18. Motional is still working out the kinks
Motional is still in the process of working out some of the biggest technological problems that exist within autonomous vehicles. This is why we see them making hundreds of thousands of test drives with the vehicles. Autonomous vehicles have a long way to go before they will be ready to deploy throughout the streets of the world with the general public. Some of the problems that are being worked out include planning, perception, discussion making, and localization.
19. Motional has big plans for the future
The future of autonomous vehicles is still up in the air, but Motional is moving forward with confidence and high expectations. There are plans to continue working on the technology to prove that it will be a safe and reliable option for commercial use. The robotaxi model was one of the examples of how autonomous fleets will be used to provide commercial services. Another will be for the delivery of parcels and within the trucking and shipping industry. Most people who make up the general public are still not convinced that this will ever become a viable option. It's more like a concept from a sci-fi film at this point, but isn't that how some of the recent advances in technology seemed just a few years ago? Motional is doing its part to prove that autonomous vehicles are safe, reliable and that they will save people time and money, but it has been a long upward climb. It's only been a few years since autonomous testing has been allowed on public roads.
20. Motional is the first to operate a commercial robotaxi in Singapore
For most, autonomous taxis are not available, that is unless you live in Singapore. This is one place where Motional's robotaxi service is in commercial operation. This is proof that the technology is ready to launch. They're still working on some issues, but perhaps one of the biggest obstacles to overcome is the fear of driverless vehicles causing traffic accidents or being unable to stop when there is the potential for an accident. We're not yet fully trusting of the technology, but the time is coming when we will see more of these fleets on the road, according to the official Motional website.
Written by Dana Hanson
Read more posts by Dana Hanson