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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The EQXX Concept features a crazy driving range.

Mercedes-Benz

Mercedes-Benz is putting its century-plus of automotive experience into building electric cars, and the results are impressive. The EQS is an electric flagship with great range, and the automaker has unveiled several concepts to show its future plans. The Vision EQXX concept debuted today as an ultra-efficient luxury EV with astonishing range numbers.

Mercedes-Benz EQXX Concept Mercedes focused on efficiency over power with the car. Mercedes-Benz

Mercedes' focus with the EQXX is efficiency over power, as it says the car is its most efficient it has ever made. The EQXX uses less than 10 kWh per 100 kilometers (around 62 miles), which equates to 620 miles on a single charge. The battery was designed with tech and knowledge from Mercedes-AMG Formula 1 team, especially when it comes to size and weight. The EQXX's battery pack is 50 percent smaller by volume and 30 percent lighter than the pack in the EQS, which already featured astonishing efficiency.

The car's impressive range comes at the expense of horsepower, which in this case means just 201 ponies from the EQXX's electric drivetrain. Mercedes says that the system is capable of delivering up to 95 percent energy efficiency - an impressive figure for power delivery to the wheels. Extremely efficient gas powertrains only achieve around 30 percent efficiency and a human long-distance runner can hit around 50 percent.

Mercedes-Benz EQXX Concept The EQXX is impressively slippery, which improves its range.

The EQXX is a slippery car, too, and with a drag coefficient of just 0.17, the car cuts through the air with ease. The typical EV uses up to two-thirds of its battery capacity just to push through the air, so the EQXX's aerodynamics is a big part of its efficiency. The other big part is Mercedes' thermal management system, which uses shutters and cooling plates to maintain an ideal battery and electric drive unit temperature. The plates allow the EQXX to gain about 12 miles of range in its most aerodynamic mode.

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What was your best car-related experience this year?

Chris Teague

This year has been a lot of things, but it hasn't been boring. Even if we focus only on the car world, there's plenty to talk about, from microchip-related new vehicle shortages to the wave of new electric vehicles hitting the market. That leaves us with a question for all of you: What was the best or most memorable car moment for you in 2021? I'll get the conversation started.

Porsche Cayenne GTS My SoCal Cayenne śaw snow for the first time in its nearly 200k-mile life last week.Chris Teague

I'd spent a good portion of 2021 wanting a new-old car to drive when I wasn't testing a new vehicle. That's harder than you'd think for someone who thinks, talks, and writes about cars all day, because there are so many interesting, risky, and downright funky options out there in every price range. The added headache for me was that I'd chosen to shop for a "fun" car in one of the most volatile car markets ever seen. Even the extremely high-mileage "untouchable" European cars I wanted to buy were commanding ridiculous prices.

After a solid few months of waffling between various rattletrap Mercedes-AMG, BMW M, and Audi S/RS cars, I landed on an option that had escaped me before: The Porsche Cayenne. First-generation Cayennes are a real bargain now, but the 955/957 (Porsche's internal code for the SUVs) can experience major problems that occur with or without regular maintenance and care. I was determined to buy one, and wasn't overly concerned about mileage, as long as I could count the number of owners on one hand. There was a beautiful 2009 Cayenne GTS with 90,000 miles but nine owners, a gorgeous 2004 Cayenne Turbo with a concerning engine tick, and many more just like them. Finally, I decided to risky-click a 196,000-mile Cayenne GTS in Southern California. It had one owner and one dealer-owner for a month or two prior to sale, its condition looked decent in photos, and I was able to negotiate a reasonable enough price that shipping it from San Diego to Maine wasn't a huge problem.

Porsche Cayenne GTS The pics look great, but hands-on tells another story.Chris Teague

I had two traveling Euro mechanics check the car out, and both confirmed that it was well-worn but mechanically sound, so I jumped. Ten days later, on a snowy, icy, dark Maine afternoon, the Cayenne arrived. Cosmetically, there were a few things the dealer and mechanics failed to mention, but overall, it looked good. The SUV passed Maine safety and emissions testing without problem, got a new set of Michelins, and I was on my way.

Porsche Cayenne GTS I'm in danger, but thankfully this should be a reasonable fix.Chris Teague

A few days of driving revealed what I was really in for. A check engine light revealed a camshaft position sensor error and the Cayenne displayed a nasty vibration at idle. A new sensor and motor mounts, and I'm on my way. I'll update you as more things break or miraculously work, but I want to hear your memories from 2021.

Email me at chris@automotivemap.com, and I will compile the best and most interesting stories for a story on New Year's Day. May you all have a wonderful 2022.

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