Autonomous driving technology has been the buzz word for some time now. Tesla has been in the news, good and bad, and now it’s time for Hyundai to take the reins. The Hyundai Motor Company and Aurora, a leader in autonomous vehicle technology, have announced a strategic partnership. Together, they will move quickly to bring self-driving technology to market around the world aiming for 2021.

The initial focus will be on developing software and hardware for automated and autonomous driving. That includes the back-end data services necessary for level 4 automation which essentially means vehicles can operate without human intervention under certain conditions.

Aurora will start by incorporating their self-driving technology into Hyundai vehicles already custom-developed and launched in test programs and pilot cities. The long-term goal for Hyundai and Aurora is to commercialise autonomous vehicles worldwide. They will combine their respective expertise to apply autonomous technology to Hyundai fuel cell vehicles.

Autonomous Driving Technology Coming Of Age

Hyundai has been leading from the front for almost 50 years with their dominance in vehicle design, safety and manufacturing. This meant they have become one of the world’s largest vehicle manufacturers alongside their affiliate, the Kia Motors Corporation.

According to Vice Chairman or Hyundai Motor, Dr. Woong Chul Yang, “We know the future of transportation is autonomous, and autonomous driving technology needs to be proven in the real world to accelerate deployment in a safe and scalable manner. Combining our advanced vehicle technology that embeds the latest safety features with Aurora’s leading suite of Level 4 autonomous technology, will advance this revolution in mobility with Hyundai in a leadership position.”

On the other hand, Aurora’s founders have been the driving force behind the self-driving revolution for the last 20 years. At the helm is CEO Chris Urmson, who also led autonomous driving technology development at Google. Sterling Anderson is another co-founder who oversaw autonomous driving at Tesla and Drew Bagnell, a cognitive technology development specialist completes the trio. They’ve built teams and pioneered modern machine learning techniques which are now on the cusp of transforming transportation forever.

Dr. Chris Urmson, CEO of Aurora said it best, “Aurora is excited to partner with Hyundai Motor to make the social benefits of self-driving available globally. This partnership combines Hyundai’s strengths in vehicle design, safety, and manufacturing with Aurora’s expertise in self-driving technologies to make a positive difference in the world.”

New Generation Fuel Cells and Autonomous Driving

Hyundai Motors and Aurora share the same goal which is to realise fully autonomous driving quickly, effectively and safely. In fact, they first began testing autonomous vehicles on public roads in the United States in 2015. At last year’s CES, Hyundai advanced its trials in urban environments, demonstrating their self-driving technologies to the public with its autonomous IONIQ models.

Hyundai showed it’s prowess at CES 2018 earlier this month debuting their latest new-generation fuel-cell vehicle. It will become the first model to be implemented for the autonomous driving test process starting this year.

Self-driving vehicles will require a massive amount of energy to support all the data communication equipment, not to mention operating hardware such as sensors. Hydrogen-powered fuel cell vehicles will be able to provide a stable electric power supply without negatively impacting driving range. These fuel-cell powertrains will offer an ideal platform to implement autonomous driving technologies. Another good example of battery technology was displayed with the recent zero-emission electric plane in Australia.

Starting next month, the Hyundai Motor Group will demonstrate its next-generation hydrogen electric vehicle on Korean highways. They will be loading level 4 self-running technology into the vehicle.

The way autonomous driving technology is advancing, we could soon see something really special. A world where children, the elderly, disabled and the visually impaired can enjoy autonomous mobility, literally by pushing a button.

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