Hyundai Jumps into Autonomous Vehicle Fray
Korean automaker teams up with artificial intelligence company for venture
Pretty well everyone automaker is rushing to the test labs and assembly lines to get out their version of a futuristic autonomous vehicle. Heavyweights like Audi, BMW, Daimler-Chrysler, Ford, GM and even more recently Volkswagen have revealed plans to either develop models of their own or team up with artificial intelligence software firms to fast-track a self-driving car to hit U.S. roads in the near future.
One company that’s been mum has been Korea-based Hyundai, which hadn’t made any announcements about its plans to get into the autonomous sweepstakes. But on Monday, Hyundai announced that the company has thrown its hat into that proverbial high-tech ring via a tandem venture with Aptiv, an operation specializing in autonomous technology.
The crux of the announcement is that they will create a project worth $4 billion with ownership equally split between the two players and based in Boston. Roughly $1.6 billion in investment will come from Hyundai as well as Hyundai Mobis and Hyundai-owned Kia, with the remaining funds to be provided by the company’s access to such resources as intellectual property, engineering expertise and research and development dedicated towards the project.
Aptiv announced it would contribute 700 employees to work exclusively on the venture as well as its own proprietary inventory of autonomous expertise and intellectual property already generated from previous ventures.
“Hyundai Motor Group’s cutting-edge engineering and R&D capabilities make them our partner of choice to advance the development of a production-ready autonomous platform,” said Aptiv CEO Kevin Clark about the venture.
Testing is to begin in 2020 with a timeline to get an autonomous vehicle commercially available within two years. Plans are for the two companies to create self-driving vehicles that operate at a level four (in which the car can perform basic driving tasks without human assistance) and a level five (where the car is totally autonomous) scale.
The companies added that robotaxis, automakers and companies with vehicular fleets like car rental firms will be able to get access to these mobile products. Since major car rental companies like Enterprise, Avis and Budget include Hyundai models in their fleets, their acquisition of the automaker’s forthcoming innovation is highly likely.
But pending the success of the technology, Hyundai will have a few U.S. hoops to jump through, namely a skeptical public still suspicious of autonomous vehicles and concerns over possible road fatalities, much of them voiced by the National Highway Safety Traffic Administration.