Motional and Lyft have resumed their self-driving mobility service in Las Vegas, Nevada. The publicly-available autonomous fleet, which was suspended earlier this year because of COVID-19, consists of Motional’s robotaxis operating on the Lyft network. As the service resumes, Motional and Lyft have taken additional safety precautions.
“Motional and Lyft share a commitment to rider safety, and we know COVID-19 is top of mind for our passengers and operators,” the companies said in a joint statement.
All vehicle operators will be given PPE gear, and occupants are required to wear masks. Protective partitions have been added between the front and rear seats; hand sanitizer and gloves are readily available for every rider. Vehicles will be sanitized after every ride, including at the start and end of each shift.
“We’ve put extensive measures in place to keep our fleet thoroughly and frequently sanitized, and our passengers safe and healthy,” said Karl Iagnemma, President and CEO of Motional. “We’re thrilled to bring the fleet back and very proud of its place in history. It’s the longest-standing service of its kind, responsible for introducing self-driving cars to hundreds of thousands of people.”
“In these turbulent times, it’s energizing to see the continued innovation made by both Motional and Lyft as we push towards delivering self-driving cars at scale,” added Nadeem Sheikh, VP of Autonomous Vehicle Programs at Lyft. “Getting this fleet back up and running is a significant jumping off point as we prepare to launch a robust set of new features for the self-driving fleet.”
Additional Safety Guidelines
Before each shift, vehicle operators must confirm they are not experiencing COVID-19 symptoms and must be willing to follow all CDC and other local guidelines related to COVID-19. Riders are also asked to follow similar safety guidelines. Should an operator or rider experience symptoms, Motional and Lyft will work together to ensure the proper contract tracing. The companies say operators will be removed from the fleet but will continue to receive pay.
Recently, Motional released its Inaugural Consumer Mobility Report. In that study, 70 percent say the risk of infection in public places will change their personal mobility decisions. Similarly, about 70 percent said that COVID-19 has changed how future cities should be planned and developed.