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Motional invests in its Las Vegas operations with expanded testing and R&D capabilities

Autonomous vehicle technology developer Motional has further invested in its Las Vegas operations with expanded testing and research and development capabilities.

Las Vegas has played an important role in Motional’s growth as a global driverless technology leader. It’s home to the company’s public robotaxi fleet, a service that has safely conducted over 100,000 public rides, and is also an important hub for its testing and research.

Motional is now significantly expanding its Las Vegas footprint as it continues to scale up ahead of its 2023 commercial robotaxi deployment. The company is tripling the size of its Las Vegas closed-course testing facility, doubling its operations center, and growing its Las Vegas team by over 100 new employees. This represents Motional’s largest operations investment in the Las Vegas area to date.

A key piece of this investment is Motional’s Las Vegas testing facility. The expanded course will allow for four times the volume of testing and can be simultaneously set up in many dynamic custom configurations. It will give Motional the ability to repeatedly test its autonomous vehicles in high stress situations, such as at high speeds, complex urban settings, variable lighting including night time, and light to heavy rain.

The testing will be conducted with its next-generation robotaxi, the all-electric Hyundai Ioniq 5 robotaxi, revealed for the first time earlier this month. The Ioniq 5 robotaxi is Motional’s first commercial vehicle and will be used in its fully driverless service, launching in multiple US markets starting in 2023.

Karl Iagnemma, Motional’s president and CEO, says: “The Las Vegas expansion marks a significant investment in Motional’s R&D operations that will allow us to accelerate testing ahead of the commercial deployment of our fully driverless robotaxis in 2023.

“Las Vegas is an integral part of Motional’s testing ecosystem, which includes diverse driving environments and conditions across multiple cities and continents. This enables us to develop a highly advanced and safe driverless system that can scale globally.”

Motional says it is “changing the way the world moves” by making driverless vehicles a safe, reliable, and accessible reality. To develop the safest technology, it says it takes “a rigorous approach to testing”.

Motional’s closed course track is a key part of this process. It’s where the company tests the most challenging and unusual scenarios in a safe environment; such as pedestrians suddenly walking out between parked cars or unexpected cyclist behaviors. By staging these edge cases, Motional is able to make sure its autonomous vehicle performs properly and will do so when it encounters these situations on public roads.

As part of its Nevada operations, Motional collaborates with government leaders to foster technology innovation in the region, support job growth, and use driverless technology to provide more equitable and accessible transportation options to community members.

Motional recently hosted US Senator Catherine Cortez Masto, Congressmember Susie Lee, Congressmember Dina Titus, and Congressmember Steven Horsford at Motional’s Las Vegas Technical Center to experience its technology first hand.

Abe Ghabra, Motional’s vice president of global operations, says Nevada’s government representatives have been important advocates for the state’s technology community and proponents of mobility and smart city advancements within the region.

Ghabra says: “Their support, along with the support of the Nevada Governor’s Office of Economic Development and the Las Vegas Global Economic Alliance (LVGEA), of our investment and R&D expansion will help ensure Las Vegas remains at the forefront of the driverless opportunity.”

Jonas Peterson, LVGEA president and CEO, says: “Las Vegas is a city where innovative companies have the space and resources to thrive, and Motional’s success in our region is a great example of that.

“The company’s continued investment in our region will help us innovate our way to a stronger, more diversified economy while also bringing high-quality jobs to our residents.”

The Las Vegas expansion is the latest in Motional’s West Coast growth. Last month, it announced plans to expand its California presence, including the start of road testing in Santa Monica, the opening of a new office in the San Francisco Bay Area, and a plan to double the size of its team in the state.

This growth equips Motional with the R&D, testing, and resources it needs to deliver a driverless vehicle that outperforms the world’s safest driver. Motional is redefining mobility and its expansion in Las Vegas serves as another milepost on that journey.

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