LAS VEGAS (FOX5) -- Autonomous robotaxis will cruise the Las Vegas Strip, ushering passengers as early as next year. Lyft announced a partnership with driverless electric vehicle company Motional this week.

Short-range communicators for self-driving cars have been installed on traffic poles throughout the resort corridor, further proof that Clark County officials are getting ready for the rollout of robotaxis on Las Vegas streets.

"I think this is a good look forward, some good optimism," said Clark County Commissioner Michael Naft.

Motional anticipates its cars won't need a safety driver in the front seat by the time they get their commercial Las Vegas debut in 2023.

"We have provided more than 100,000 rides in Las Vegas," Motional says on their website.

What happens when the cars malfunction? No federal regulations currently exist surrounding self-driving cars, only suggested guidance.

In Nevada, a spokesperson for the DMV, Kevin Malone, said, "We've taken a hands-off approach and allowed companies to operate freely."

Motional is able to go without a driver by using lidar to capture three-dimensional position data, as well as radar, cameras and other sensors, for a "360 degree field view." On page 26 of its Voluntary Safety Self-Assessment, Motional reports that it has back-up plans in place in case of system failures.

"The fallback system uses separate hardware, including power and network systems, to prevent any hardware failures from affecting both the primary and fallback systems," said Motional.

Montional/Lyft self-driving taxi

Motional IONIQ 5-based robotaxi as part of a partnership with Lyft. (Courtesy Lyft/Motional)

In the event of failure of the car's critical sensor systems, the car is instructed to pull over and stop safely. The company also states that even its backup system will stop the car immediately in the lane if a person or object is detected.

"We believe that driverless technology and autonomous vehicles will deliver safer roads," said Motional.

Naft, a vocal advocate for roadway safety, supports this notion.

"The more we can look at opportunities to improve traffic safety, which, there's little doubt that this does, I think that's better for all of us," said Naft.


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