Famously abuzz with stretch limousines, lowriders, fancy sports cars and doorless Jeeps, the streets of Los Angeles soon will host those vehicles’ driverless younger cousin as well.
Autonomous vehicle (AV) company Motional, a joint venture between Hyundai Motor Group (OCTUS: HYMTF) and global technology company Aptiv (NYSE: APTV), announced an expansion of its West Coast operations, including new investments in an operations facility and road testing in Los Angeles, a new San Francisco Bay Area office, and a doubling of its California team’s size.
Motional has seen rapid growth over the past 18 months, during which time the company has finalized its joint venture, extended its operations in Asia to Seoul, South Korea, and grown its headcount by nearly 150%. Looking ahead, the company is set to begin public testing and road mapping in Los Angeles this month with its new robotaxi, the Hyundai IONIQ 5. It’s the company’s first round of testing in the city, complementing ongoing trials in Boston, Pittsburgh, Las Vegas and Singapore.
“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,” said Karl Iagnemma, Motional’s president and CEO, on Tuesday. “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 road map.”
Motional’s Santa Monica facility, which opened in 2016 and houses a team focused on machine learning and hardware, is also getting an upgrade, with the team more than doubling in headcount. And in the Bay Area, Motional is expanding its reach by establishing another facility, which will be the base of operations for its Compute Design team.
“The opening of our Bay Area office reaffirms Motional’s commitment to attracting the most innovative talent in the driverless industry,” said Sammy Omari, vice president of autonomy in engineering at Motional. “With our significant presence on the East and West coasts, now including Silicon Valley, we’re able to reach a large segment of the incredible talent pool. We’re excited to offer these opportunities to new team members and look forward to welcoming those who are at the forefront of autonomy technology.”
Motional has already gotten in on the action: As of February, it had accumulated 100,000 hours of 1.5 million miles of testing. In July, the company had a use case in which its AVs were deployed by utility provider Eversource to scan for real-time data on its energy infrastructure. The company hasn’t been limited to logistics use cases either — Motional has an agreement with Lyft to launch a fully driverless, multimarket commercial service by 2023.