There might soon be no human-controlled cars left in Nevada, with two more auto brands this week approved for driverless technology testing on public roads in the US state.
This latest addition to Nevada’s driverless party will include new prototypes based on the Hyundai ix35 Fuel Cell vehicle - the world’s first hydrogen-fuelled autonomous vehicle - and a version of Kia’s Soul EV.
The brands have made separate announcements of their plans, but it is known that both have invested a massive five-year AU$13.5 billion into R&D for self-driving technologies.
Hyundai itself revealed in November that it is aiming to introduce highly autonomous systems by 2020 - a common target for many carmakers working on driverless technology - while 2030 has been declared the goal for fully driverless systems.
Kia recently announced a nearly identical timeline, with a new and highly capable Advanced Driver Assistance System to be developed by 2020.
Approval for testing in Nevada, a state that has proven supportive of driverless technology initiatives, marks a significant step for both brands.
“A great deal of research and rigorous product testing will need to be undertaken in order to make the ‘self-driving car’ a reality,” said Tae-Won Lim, Vice President, Central Advanced Research and Engineering Institute of Hyundai Motor Group.
“Thanks to this licence we will be able to accelerate the testing of our latest autonomous technologies. We are confident that our latest innovations, both for partially- and fully-autonomous driving, will ultimately make driving safer for all road users.”
Hyundai’s modified ix35 Fuel Cell will test the following technologies:
Interval Autonomous Driving: Fully-autonomous driving within fully controlled, designated roads
Traffic Jam Assist: Tracks the vehicle in front under moderate/high traffic conditions (0-60km/h)
Emergency Stop System: Autonomously directs the car to the side of the road in case of emergency
Narrow Path Assist: Provides guidance or fully-autonomous drive through narrow roads
In each case, the vehicle will use a series of advanced cameras, radars and sensors, including Around View Monitor Camera, GPS, Blind Spot Detection Radar, Smart Cruise Control Radar, Ultrasonic Sensor, and LiDAR (Light Detection and Ranging).
Hyundai says it has already covered more than 16,000 kilometres of driverless testing in Korea, evaluating its interaction with traffic signals and signs, pedestrians, cyclists, street furniture and hazards.