Aptiv's self-driving BMWs can now take people to and from the Las Vegas airport

The supplier wants its self-driving platform in production in 2022.

Finally, a driver that won't complain about airport traffic.

This story is part of CES, where CNET covers the latest news on the most incredible tech coming soon.

For last few years, you might have noticed a growing number of slightly modified BMW 5 Series sedans rolling around Las Vegas with a big "Aptiv" badge on the side. These are actually Aptiv's self-driving development cars, which have been gathering data while taking showgoers and tourists alike around the city. Now, their reach is about to expand in a big way.

Aptiv announced this week that it has once again expanded the area in which its self-driving BMWs can operate. Specifically, the company has been granted the ability to pick up and drop off passengers at Las Vegas' McCarran International Airport.

It might be a little longer until you're able to scoop up this specific car at McCarran, though. For now, the pilot program is not open to the public -- you'll have to head to the strip to take a crack at Aptiv's tech for now. As it currently stands, the airport partnership primarily serves as a testbed to help optimize ground transportation at the airport. It sounds like a future phase of the pilot might be open to the public, but there's no timeline connected to that possibility as of this writing. 

You won't be able to actually hail an airport ride in an AV for the time being, but you'll likely see a few Bimmers zipping around the airport grounds autonomously.


"Data has shown that a significant portion of ride-hailing demand comes from passengers traveling to and from airports," said Karl Iagnemma, president of autonomous mobility at Aptiv, in a statement. "We look forward to working with McCarran International Airport to demonstrate that self-driving cars can soon improve their customers' mobility experience."

Aptiv hopes to launch its Level 4 autonomous driving platform in 2022. Rather than selling a whole car, Aptiv wants to create a platform that other companies can purchase and integrate into their own vehicles. Right now, the hardware and software required to enable this level of autonomy are installed on a fleet of BMW 5 Series sedans, but it can be adapted to other marques.

In fact, you might see this tech on Hyundai vehicles in the future. Back in September, Aptiv and Hyundai announced that the two companies would create a joint-venture operation to bring this AV platform to market. Each company owns half of the JV. According to Aptiv's press release, the 50-50 venture will take control of Aptiv's operations in Sin City, including the recently announced airport partnership.

Halfway through 2019, Aptiv announced that it completed 50,000 rides in Las Vegas, in addition to the company's operations in Boston, Singapore and other locations. I was lucky enough to take an early spin in one of Aptiv's cars in 2018, and I found it to be a totally boring experience -- just the kind of peace of mind for consumers on the fence about the early stages of AV tech.

Hailing one of these self-driving development cars is as easy as calling any other Lyft. However, when selecting what type of ride you want, pick the option that brings Aptiv's car to your doorstep. The cars aren't always going to be available, nor can they go to every location in and around Las Vegas, so it's never a guarantee that you'll find one of Aptiv's cars the next time you need a ride.

Originally published Jan. 7, 8:36 a.m. PT.
Update, 11:01 a.m.: Clarifies distinction between Aptiv's projects with Lyft and this specific pilot.