Autonomous Mobility

Hyundai launches self-driving on-demand ride-sharing pilot service

Hyundai is doing autonomous Kona test drives in Irvine, California.

Photo courtesy of Hyundai Motor Company

Hyundai is partnering with Pony.ai and BotRide to launch a shared, on-demand, autonomous vehicle service operating on public roads. Beginning November 4, a fleet of self-driving Hyundai Kona all-electric SUVs will provide free rides around Irvine, California.

Pony.ai built the car's self-driving system and Via created the BotRide on-demand ridesharing technology and application, according to the automaker.

BotRide autonomous Kona EV The vehicle fleet is now running in Irvine, California.Photo courtesy of Hyundai Motor Company

"The pilot introduces BotRide to several hundred Irvine residents, including college students. The goal is to study consumer behavior in an autonomous ride-sharing environment," said Christopher Chang, head of business development, strategy and technology division, Hyundai Motor Company. "We are going to learn about ecosystems, where the vehicles travel and optimize the customer experience. BotRide, is another example of Hyundai's ongoing efforts to actively build expertise in mobility technology as well as the company's commitment to providing more user-friendly mobility services to customers."

Riders can use the BotRide app, available for Apple and Android devices, to hail the service from their smartphone. Multiple rides are able to share the same vehicle, despite having different pickup and drop off locations.

The vehicles are equipped with Pony.ai's latest sensor hardware and proprietary software that identifies other vehicle and pedestrian locations surrounding the Kona. It works to predict human and vehicle behavior and then logs the information gathered during the rides to validate user experience.

BotRide autonomous Kona EV Riders hail the ride using their smartphone.Photo courtesy of Hyundai Motor Company

"The BotRide pilot represents an important step in the deployment and eventual commercialization of a growing new mobility business," said Daniel Han, manager, Advanced Product Strategy, Hyundai Motor America. "In addition to the technology partners powering BotRide, the broader city and community ecosystem have also played an important role in making BotRide possible. The BotRide pilot can serve as an example of how cities and companies can come together to truly enable smart cities and smart transportation systems of the future."

The fleet is on the road now.

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The Vision T is likely a look at the design language of the new Hyundai Tucson.

Image courtesy of Hyundai

Next week, Hyundai will unveil a new plug-in hybrid SUV concept car. The model is the seventh in the automaker's series of Hyundai Design Center concepts that combines "emotional value" with "sensuous sportiness" in an application of the company's new design language.

"We pursue innovative solutions in design and add emotional value to our product experience through sensuous sportiness design language," said SangYup Lee, Senior Vice President and Head of Hyundai Global Design Center. The SUV concept is powered by a plug-in hybrid powertrain indicating its eco-lifestyle focus and its inherent balance with the environment in which it is driven.

Hyundai Vision T concept SUV car front PHEV The side profile of the design shows off a new vision for Hyundai's compact SUV.Image courtesy of Hyundai

The SUV has a theme of parametric fantasy and transcendent connectivity. All of the concept SUV's body structures are connected from the body to light or trim features. The overall look is a seamless take on design boundaries, perhaps signifying the future seamlessness of home, vehicle, entertainment, and transportation spaces.

Ambient light reflects off concave and convex surfaces to create a sense of tension, according to Hyundai.

The vehicle features an evolution of the Hidden Signature Lamp (as seen on the new Sonata) and features a parametric air shutter that deploys to help adjust aerodynamics and design. The shutter is closed when the vehicle is stationary then moves to effect airflow, aerodynamics, and fuel efficiency.

Why might it be the next Tucson? Hyundai has already disclosed that this concept has the dimensions of a compact SUV. That ticks the Tucson box. There's also the name of the vehicle "Vision T" and the fact that nearly every SUV in the Hyundai lineup has either debuted or undergone a significant redesign in the last 18 months except Tucson. It's logical that Tucson would be up next and that it would evolve Hyundai's powertrain offerings given the success of the Kona EV.

Earlier, Hyundai announced that 13 new products would be making their way into the company's portfolio in the coming years including the Hyundai Santa Cruz truck.

No details about the car's plug-in hybrid powertrain are yet available. The full concept car will be revealed during AutoMobility LA.

Kia has introduced a concept car that gives a hint at what future SUV design will look like.

Photo courtesy of Kia Motors

Kia Motors is giving a hint of its future electric vehicle design with the debut of the Kia Futuron Concept, an all-wheel drive high-riding hatchback that they're calling a "sports car on an SUV platform."

The automaker choose the name of the vehicle because it's a portmanteau of the words future and on. They say that it will help give consumers an idea of what to expect from Kia in the future. Looking closely, it's likely that many hallmarks of this concept car will play out in future Niro designs and in a forthcoming subcompact SUV that is related to the Hyundai Venue.

Kia Futuron Concept side The high-riding coupe has sleek lines and a sophisticated overall aesthetic.Photo courtesy of Kia Motors

With the design, Kia is emphasizing elegant proportions rather than funky characteristics like what you'll find in their Soul. Sweeping lines that flow from front to rear are common in modern concept vehicles and this is no exception. Kia's designers were drawn to the 360-degree styling because of its flowing shapes that easily move from the exterior to the interior, expanding and contracting.

The face of the car has a new interpretation of Kia's tiger nose grille, with a wide opening across the front of the car. That grille incorporates LED headlamps with a distinct light signature.

Kia has given the Futuron Concept an all-electric powertrain with all-wheel drive. It has a high-capacity battery (no exact numbers are available) and in-wheel electric motors.

Kia Futuron Concept top roof It features a panoramic glass roof.Photo courtesy of Kia Motors

The interior of the model features leaned back seats that allows for an "interactive driving experience suitable for urban city environments." The two front seats are made out of flexible materials that offer seating flexibility in the vein fo what first-class passengers would find on an airliner.

Its roof has diamond-shaped panoramic glass. Inside the greenhouse is a network of LiDAR sensors capable of Level 4 autonomous driving features.

Kia Futuron Concept seats Kia has given the SUV unique seating that is meant to provide first-class comfortability.Photo courtesy of Kia Motors

Kia touts the car's seamless cockpit area that features the instrument cluster wrapped in harmony with the rest of the car's audio and visual displays and through the steering wheel.