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Motional CEO hints at autonomous future in logistics – TechCrunch

Motional, the $ 4 billion joint venture between Aptiv and Hyundai, explores the company’s potential involvement in trucking or autonomous logistics, its CEO said today in a live session at the event. 2021 mobility program from TechCrunch.

“The beauty of what is on the other side of the coin is that the same core technology can of course be applied to multiple use cases,” Karl Iagnemma said on the panel led by the editor-in-chief of Transportation TechCrunch, Kirsten Korosec, who asked about Motional’s intention to expand its business model into trucking. “It’s the same, it’s not the same, but it’s the same. We are therefore actively exploring other use cases. We will have additional activity in this area. We have nothing to announce today. But more to come.

While Motional still believes that the greatest economic opportunity comes from solving the difficult technological issues of autonomy serving people on the move, AKA the robotaxi model, Iagnemma acknowledged that the same difficult issues – perception, planning, decision making , location – are at the heart of autonomy, whether it is moving people or parcels.

“We are looking for a great business opportunity that has the closest technically adjacency to the stack that we are currently developing,” said Iagnemma, responding to what is most attractive in the delivery and logistics model . “That’s really what it boils down to. These different use cases have, in some cases, very different business cases around them, the opportunity seems quite different. And so it helps us to mark the ranking order internally. What presents an interesting opportunity? And again, we’ve tried to line that up with our current tech development path to say, hey, that would be the least incremental effort for the greatest incremental opportunity. This is how we orient our strategy in a way, internally at Motional.

For his part, Chris Urmson, co-founder and CEO of autonomous vehicle company Aurora, and the other panelist for the session, admitted that transporting and moving people with automated vehicles will ultimately be both a business. transformation and a company that outperforms trucking in the long run. Aurora is currently focusing on freight applications, rather than robotaxi, for a number of reasons, including the ability to scale now.

“[The robotaxi] it will take time for the market to change as the freight and trucking market is there today, ”said Urmson.

Both panelists agreed that there is no fruit within reach in the autonomous world. The self-driving vehicle problem is difficult to solve, but Urmson argues that it may be a little easier to solve with trucking, where you don’t have to account for the variability of a city’s road network. Building a self-contained stack for driving on highways is easier due to their generally uniform nature.

“So once you get the initial idea of ​​making the technology work in this operational defined design area, deployment shifts from technology expansion to operational expansion,” said Urmson. “And it’s more like some kind of conventional business. So we think it’s a way to scale the business and operations and generate the revenue stream that then allows us to really go and take that core technology and apply it in carpooling and create a exciting business in this space as well.

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