Hyundai has pulled something of a fast one and debuted a very interesting looking fully autonomous concept version of the IONIQ at the Los Angeles Auto Show, making the field of self-driving car tech even more interesting than it was before.
As a reminder, Hyundai currently offers all-electric (EV), plug-in hybrid (PHEV), and conventional hybrid versions of the production IONIQ. Owing to potential synergies, the company is probably mostly interested in utilizing self-driving tech in EVs, as most other manufacturers appear to be.
Interestingly, the self-driving hardware suite used in the concept is quite distinct from that used in Tesla’s new self-driving hardware suite. Specifically, Hyundai seems to have a better opinion of LiDAR (light imaging, detecting, and ranging) than Tesla and CEO Elon Musk (and our in-house expert), as sensors are included in the concept’s bumper. (Notably, LiDAR is still fairly expensive.)
Tesla’s new hardware suite is, of course, actually being deployed in every Model S and Model X that’s coming out of the factory, while Hyundai’s is still conceptual. Still, it’s good to see that the company is showing a lot of interest.
The press release (via sister site Gas 2) provides more: “The goal of the autonomous IONIQ concept was to keep the self-driving systems as simple as possible. This was accomplished by using the production car’s Smart Cruise Control’s forward-facing radar, Lane Keep Assist cameras and integrated them with LiDAR technology. Hyundai Motor is also developing its own autonomous vehicle operating system, with the goal of using a lot less computing power. This will result in a low-cost platform, which can be installed in future Hyundai models the average consumer can afford.”
Other features of the system include:
- A 3-camera array which detects pedestrian proximity, lane markings and traffic signals.
- A GPS antenna to determine the precise location of each vehicle.
- High-definition mapping data from Hyundai MnSoft that delivers location accuracy, road grade/curvature, lane width, and indication data.
- A Blind Spot Detection radar to ensure even simple lane changes are executed safely.
That all sounds pretty good. A closer look at the concept will be provided at the upcoming Consumer Electronics Show (CES) in January, where the company will be showcasing two of the autonomous IONIQs by providing members of the media with rides “up and down the neon-and sunlit boulevards of Las Vegas.”
These autonomous IONIQs will reportedly be able to deal effectively with:
- High levels of pedestrian traffic
- Stop lights, stop signs, and school zones
- Road construction and roadblocks
- Speed bumps
- Dogs without a leash
- Children at play
- Shopping centers
- Intersections without traffic signals
As some further background here, Hyundai is currently road-testing three of these autonomous IONIQs (as well as two Autonomous Tucson Fuel Cell vehicles) at the Hyundai Research and Development Center in Namyang, South Korea. This is notable because the facility is literally swarming with foot traffic (~11,000 people on site typically).
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