Motional Will Double Its Staff As It Begins Testing Autonomous Vehicles in Santa Monica

Zac Estrada

Zac Estrada is a reporter covering transportation, technology and policy. A former reporter for The Verge and Jalopnik, his work has also appeared in Automobile Magazine, Autoweek, Pacific Standard, Boston.com and BLAC Detroit. A native of Southern California, he is a graduate of Northeastern University in Boston. You can find him on Twitter at @zacestrada.

Motional

Boston-based autonomous vehicle company Motional announced Tuesday it will expand its West Coast operations and start testing vehicles in the city as it gears up to offer driverless ride hailing cars in the next two years.

Motional will have more than 100 employees once the Santa Monica expansion is complete later this year, roughly doubling its staff in the city after moving to a larger space. It opened its first Santa Monica office in 2016.


The company also announced it would boost its research and development efforts in and around L.A. and test its new "robotaxi" in the area for the first time. Motional says the L.A. area is important for testing because of streets that incorporate buses and bicycles in certain places, high levels of traffic and some complex intersections as its software learns the roads of major cities. And the company says testing in dense and diverse cities is critical for autonomous vehicle software's understanding of different driving conditions.

Testing is also being conducted in Boston, Las Vegas, Pittsburgh and Singapore.

Motional has a permit from the California Department of Motor Vehicles to conduct vehicle testing on public roads, but only with a driver behind the wheel.

Motional plans to use the Hyundai Ioniq 5 electric vehicle as the basis for its robotaxi.

In March, Motional and Hyundai Motor Group agreed to use the upcoming Hyundai Ioniq 5 electric vehicle as the basis for its robotaxi following a 2020 joint venture deal. The small SUVs, due on sale later this year, will differ from the ones sold to the public. Motional will add light detection and ranging (LiDAR) and other cameras for a nearly 360-degree view around the vehicle to enable the company's software to work as a taxi.

Bay Area-based Waymo has similar deals with Jaguar Land Rover and Chrysler's parent company, Stellantis.

Motional will equip a fleet of the vehicles for Level 4 autonomous capabilities — meaning the vehicle can operate under certain conditions without a driver, including as a taxi or rideshare service. In 2020, Motional signed a deal with Lyft to start offering users a driverless vehicle option in some markets beginning in 2023.

Despite the deal with Hyundai, which has its U.S. headquarters in Fountain Valley, the AV company's expansion plans as of now do not include using any of the automaker's California operations. That includes a track and testing center in the Mojave Desert.

Also Tuesday, Motional announced the West Coast expansion would also include a new office in Milpitas, its first near Silicon Valley and San Francisco.

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MaC Venture Capital Raises $203M for Its Second Fund

Decerry Donato

Decerry Donato is dot.LA's Editorial Fellow. Prior to that, she was an editorial intern at the company. Decerry received her bachelor's degree in literary journalism from the University of California, Irvine. She continues to write stories to inform the community about issues or events that take place in the L.A. area. On the weekends, she can be found hiking in the Angeles National forest or sifting through racks at your local thrift store.

MaC Venture Capital Raises $203M for Its Second Fund
Courtesy of MaC Venture Capital

While venture capital funding has taken a hit this year, that hasn’t stopped MaC Venture Capital from raising $203 million for its second fund.

The Los Angeles-based, Black-led VC firm said Monday that it had surpassed its initial $200 million goal for the fund, which dot.LA reported in January, over the span of seven months. MaC said it expects to invest the capital in up to 50 mostly seed-stage startups while remaining “sector-agnostic.”

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LA Tech ‘Moves’: Adtech Firm OpenX Lures New SVP, Getlabs and DISQO Tap New VPs

Decerry Donato

Decerry Donato is dot.LA's Editorial Fellow. Prior to that, she was an editorial intern at the company. Decerry received her bachelor's degree in literary journalism from the University of California, Irvine. She continues to write stories to inform the community about issues or events that take place in the L.A. area. On the weekends, she can be found hiking in the Angeles National forest or sifting through racks at your local thrift store.

LA Tech ‘Moves’: Adtech Firm OpenX Lures New SVP, Getlabs and DISQO Tap New VPs
Photo by James Opas | Modified by Joshua Letona

“Moves,” our roundup of job changes in L.A. tech, is presented by Interchange.LA, dot.LA's recruiting and career platform connecting Southern California's most exciting companies with top tech talent. Create a free Interchange.LA profile here—and if you're looking for ways to supercharge your recruiting efforts, find out more about Interchange.LA's white-glove recruiting service by emailing Sharmineh O’Farrill Lewis (sharmineh@dot.la). Please send job changes and personnel moves to moves@dot.la.

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