Driverless Hyundai cars get OK

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Driverless Hyundai cars get OK

Hyundai Motor has won the rights to deploy unmanned, auto-driven vehicles in the U.S. state of Nevada, the company said Monday. This is the first time a license has been approved for a Korean automaker.

Currently five states in the U.S issue licenses for autonomous driving. The state of Nevada is known for its stricter license approval process, which includes a technical presentation of the car and an on-road vehicle test. The licensed autos are Tucson hydrogen fueled cell vehicle, an SUV of Hyundai Motor, and four Soul electric vehicles (EV) from Hyundai’s sister company Kia Motors.

Among passenger carmakers worldwide, Hyundai is the second to be permitted a license after Audi. A total of five companies, not considered passenger car manufacturers, such as Google, were approved previously.

In California, where the licensing process is less strict, nine companies, including Nissan, Honda and Tesla have obtained licenses and their vehicles are being tested on roads.

Concerns over accidents and other safety issues have tightened regulations for auto-driving licensing.

Until now, Hyundai and Kia have had limited testing of their cars at testing grounds in California. With the new license, the company can test cars beyond the testing grounds and now aims to accelerate its development of auto-driven cars.

“It is meaningful that our hydrogen fuel cell vehicle with diverse field technologies has been permitted a license,” said a spokesman from Hyundai. “Tucson is the first car to obtain a license as a hydrogen-powered car.”

The licensed cars are installed with technologies from Hyundai Motor Group such as a traffic jam assist system, a branch road assist system and an autonomous emergency stop capability. Based on these technologies, the company will run through tests on highways and will expand the testing routes to metropolitan areas next year.

The autonomous car market, deemed to be a major source of profit in the future, is due to face fierce competition with lines increasingly blurred between the automobile market and the IT sector.

IT giants including Google, Apple and Samsung have stepped into the development of future “smart cars” bringing tension to the automotive sector. Autonomous-driving cars and environmentally friendly cars are among the sectors of smart car development.


BY LEE SOO-KI [kim.jeehee@joongang.co.kr]



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