Hyundai has set out a timeline for its autonomous vehicle technology that will see it roll out the first such features by 2020, with nearly fully self-driving models hitting the road a decade later.
Australia’s GoAuto magazine attended a technology demo in South Korea where the automaker laid out its plan for cars and crossovers that can drive themselves, like the Ioniq autonomous concept it unveiled last fall at the LA auto show.
Autonomous car tech is described on a scale of one to five, with the first level occupied by features like adaptive cruise control. Level two automation is already on the market in cars that combine radar-based cruise that can follow traffic, even in stop-and-go situations, while also commanding automatic steering inputs to keep the vehicle in its own lane. However, even cars that can do this get cranky when the driver’s hands are off the wheel for any significant length of time.
Hyundai wants to hit level three by 2020, so that the car will be able to manage itself in highway driving; the company is aiming to reach level four by 2030, which means the cars will drive themselves in urban and highway situations, in all but the most challenging weather conditions, where a human’s judgement on whether it’s safe to keep going is still considered better than a computer’s.
Byungyon You, Hyundai’s lead safety research engineer, said the car maker aspires to level five — where the car will remain in charge no matter what — but hasn’t put a timeline on that lofty ambition just yet.
GoAuto’s writer took a ride in one of Hyundai’s demonstrator vehicles, a retrofitted Tucson fuel-cell EV, which he said managed a 10-minute pre-planned route with little drama.
Key among the company’s aspirations is designing its own self-driving software rather than depending on the work of outside companies. This isn’t surprising when you consider Hyundai is unique in the marketplace for producing, of all things, its own sheetmetal so as to have as much control as possible over the materials that go into its cars.
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