Motional CEO hints at an autonomous future in logistics


Motion, a $4 billion joint venture between Aptiv and Hyundai, is exploring the company’s potential involvement in autonomous trucking or logistics, its CEO said during a live session at Nerdshala’s 2021 mobility event today.

“The beauty of the other side of the coin is that the same basic technology can certainly be applied to multiple use cases,” said Karl Ignemma on a panel led by Nerdshala’s transportation editor Kirsten Korosek. Business model in trucking. “It is similar, it is not the same, but it is similar. And so we are actively exploring other use cases. We will have additional activities in this area. We have nothing to announce today. But more is yet to come.”

While Motional still believes that the greatest economic opportunity comes from solving the tough technical problems of autonomy in the service of moving people, the AKA robotics model, Ignemma, recognizes the same difficult problems – perception, planning, decision-making, localisation – of At the core lies autonomy, whether it is moving people or parcels.

“We are looking for a great business opportunity, which from a technical point of view is closest to the stack that we are currently developing,” Ignemma said, responding to the most attractive thing in the delivery and logistics model. “Really that’s what it boils down to. With these different use cases, in some cases, there are quite dramatically different business cases surrounding them, the opportunity looks quite different. And so that’s us internally. The rank order helps to score. What presents an interesting opportunity? And then, we tried to align toward our current technology growth path to say it’s least incremental for the biggest incremental opportunity. The effort will be. That’s how we guide our strategy internally at Motional.”

For his part, Chris Urmson, co-founder and CEO of autonomous vehicle company Aurora, and the session’s other panelists acknowledged that riding and moving people with automated vehicles will ultimately be a transformative business and one that goes beyond trucking. Will leave long term. Aurora is currently focused on freight applications rather than robotics for a number of reasons, including the ability to scale now.

“[The robotaxi] The market will take time to develop while the freight and trucking market is here today,” Urmson said.

Both panelists agreed that there is no low-hanging fruit in the autonomous world. The problem of self-driving vehicles is difficult to solve, but Urmson argues that it’s probably a little easier to solve with trucking, where you don’t need to consider the amount of variability in a city’s road network. Building an autonomous stack to drive on a freeway is easy due to their mostly uniform nature.

“So once you crack the initial nut of technology working in that operationally defined design domain, the rollout goes from technical detail to operational detail,” Urmson said. “And it looks like a traditional business. So we think it’s a way to grow the business and the operations and generate the revenue stream that we need to then go and really take that core technology and apply it to ride hailing.” And allowing an exciting business to be built in that location.”

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