Self-Driving

Hyundai outlines its autonomous vehicle plans for the next decade and beyond

Hyundai is peeling back the curtain on its autonomous vehicle plans.

Photo courtesy of Hyundai Motor America

In a statement Monday as part of a New Year's message to shareholders, employees, and the public, Hyundai Motor Group Chairman Euisun Chung stressed the transformation of the company as mobility needs evolve, specifically singling out autonomous technologies as part of that push. The Group is the parent company of Hyundai, Genesis, and Kia.

"We will realize the safest and most innovative mobility technology in the world by strengthening our autonomous driving, connectivity and software capabilities. We will continue to invest in new growth fields such as urban air mobility and robotics to expand the realm of new mobility in the near future," said Chung.

Hyundai 'Elevate' Walking Car Concept Hyundai's New Horizon Studios recently released renderings that explore the possibilities of autonomous mobility including this 'Elevate' Walking Car Concept. Photo courtesy of Hyundai Motor Group

The Group recently made news by agreeing to acquire a controlling stake in Boston Dynamics.

The company has committed to applying Level 3 autonomous driving technology to mass production models in 2022. Further, they will push for commercialization projects for autonomous driving technologies such as robotaxi services in 2023.

There are six levels of autonomous driving according to the Society of Automotive Engineers (SAE). The base Level 0 technology provides warnings and momentary assistance like automatic emergency braking, blind spot warning, and lane departure warning. Levels 3, 4, and 5 offer advanced levels of autonomy that don't require the driver to be driving all the time. This level requires drivers to drive when a Level 3 features requests it of them.

According to the Pegasus project, a cooperative working to establish the standards of autonomous driving, a Level 3 system, "recognizes its limits but is not able to establish a risk-minimal state from every initial situation. Thus, the system requests the driver to take back the driving task with an sufficient time margin. The automated vehicle handles emergency situations successfully if a human driver could handle the situation.

Late last year, Honda made news when it said that its forthcoming Honda Legend will feature Level 3 autonomous technology, becoming the first in the world to do so. Honda's parent company says that the car will be launched before the end of the current fiscal year (March 31, 2021) and feature Traffic Jam Pilot as its hallmark technology.

Motional Inc., the joint venture between Hyundai Motor Group and Aptiv, has plans to conduct Level 4 driverless tests on public roads in Nevada. In 2023, the company will work with Lyft to launch autonomous driving commercialization services in "major U.S. regions". Presumably this means cities that have been traditional autonomous vehicle testing zones like Phoenix, San Francisco, and metro Atlanta.

Hyundai Motor Group also intends to focus on next-generation software that interacts with vehicle driving assistance, map-linked navigation, and connected infotainment systems. This is a natural next step, and something that other automakers are also doing.

Additionally, the Group's Unmanned Aircraft System, a joint venture with Uber,is on track for a 2026 debut for hybrid powertrain models while a fully electrified model is due in 2028 for use in urban areas. The companies see regional air mobility products connecting adjacent cities in the 2030s.

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New driver assist technology is coming to the Lexus lineup later this year.

Photo courtesy of Lexus

New Lexus Teammate driver assistance technology will debut on the 2022 Lexus LS 500h later this year. Its availability is constrained to all-wheel drive models.

The technology was developed based on the Mobility Teammate Concept. This automated driving concept is unique to Toyota sough to enhance communication between drivers and cars, "enabling them to reach out to each other for mutual assistance". The concept sees cars and humans interacting and partnering rather than having automation take over for drivers. This approach allows drivers to enjoy the experience of driving but allowing the vehicle to take over some functions of driver's duties at times. In this way, the tech works as both guardian and chauffeur.

2022 Lexus The company's flagship sedan will get the technology first.Photo courtesy of Lexus

2022 Lexus LS 500h

On the 2022 Lexus 500h, Lexus Teammate will offer two functions: Advanced Drive and Advanced Park.

Advanced Drive is design to "accurately detect driving conditions to plan and execute acceleration, braking, and steering commands to maintain the vehicle within the lane, follow other vehicles, change lanes, navigate certain interchanges and traffic jams and overtake slower vehicles." It's a Level 2 functionality that "allows for driving on limited-access highways with partial hands-free, eyes-on-the-road operation".

This description makes it sound a lot like the suite of lane keeping, lane centering, and adaptive cruise control technology that Hyundai offers rather than true Level 3 technology that General Motors's Super Cruise delivers.

Lexus will show operation of the technology on a screen with information displayed like this.Photo courtesy of Lexus

Advanced Park operates similar to how the Genesis GV80's hands-free parking assist technology works. The Lexus tech automatically controls steering, acceleration, braking, and gear changes with parallel parking or backing into a parking space. It uses a combination of 360-degree sensing technologies and a bird's eye view display to perform the task while allowing the driver to monitor progress.

"We are very proud of Lexus Teammate, which is the culmination of five years of close collaboration between our technical centers in Japan and the US. We conducted simultaneous development and rigorous testing in both markets with the goal of achieving industry-leading advanced driver assistance functionality," says Derek Caveney, executive engineer at Toyota Motor North America's Integrated Vehicle Systems team.

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The Hyundai Santa Cruz will debut next week but ahead of that, the design department is giving a closer look at the truck in a new video.

Photo courtesy of Hyundai Motor America

We'll see the Hyundai Santa Cruz in full for the first time when it debuts on April 15 but ahead of time, Hyundai is setting the stage for expectations with the model. To help with that, the company released a video today featuring the truck's design manager discussing the inspiration for the utility vehicle.

The quick one-minute video is hosted by Brad Arnold, design manager at Hyundai North America. The Southern California native is the leader of the team that created the Santa Cruz, a project that began years ago. He's joined in the video by Senon Franco, the lead designer at Hyundai North America.

2022 Hyundai Santa Cruz

Photo courtesy of Hyundai Motor America
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As Arnold explains in the video, the design of the Santa Cruz started with a simple premise: "this is not a typical truck". Based on how Arnold describes the capabilities of the truck, that sounds true. It is meant to "thrive in dense urban environments and the open outdoors". One could argue that no full-size truck on the market today does that. Neither do most of the midsize models, though their sizing is better for that landscape.

Arnold says that the Santa Cruz is "small in size", a call that serves to remind viewers that the Santa Cruz isn't a big truck. It's more similar in size to the forthcoming Ford Maverick, a small truck that slots below the Ranger in Ford's lineup.

However, the company isn't even calling it a truck. The new model is being referred to as the Santa Cruz Sport Adventure Vehicle. This sounds a lot like how Kia is referring to the new generation of its Carnival minivan as a multi-purpose vehicle (MPV).

Arnold says that the design is meant to make the Santa Cruz not look like a truck. Rather, it's supposed to look "like a Santa Cruz". Part of that includes the front end, which looks like a carryover from the fascia of the 2022 Hyundai Tucson.

Among the other secrets Hyundai is giving away ahead of the product's reveal is that there will be more than one "efficient" powertrain, a flexible bed, "cutting-edge" connectivity, and all-wheel drive.

Watch the video for yourself below.

Design Inspiration | 2022 Santa Cruz | Hyundai www.youtube.com

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