Hyundai is actively investing in technology – the automotive industry, more than any other, is dependent on them. With the ubiquity of smartphones, a constant connection to the Internet has become a rule of good form in any modern car. But cars need high-speed Internet not only as an access point for passengers’ gadgets.
A constant connection to networks ensures the operation of many machine systems: now it is navigation with real-time traffic analysis, machine diagnostics and software updates; soon – the transmission of operational information and warnings for the safe movement of vehicles; and in the near future – the interaction of cars with each other (V2V) and with the road infrastructure (V2X). This automatically turns automakers into Internet access providers and opens up a new market segment for them.
Hyundai Motor Group plans to connect 10 million people around the world to the Internet in their cars by 2022 and provide them with access to information networks.
But the most promising use of 5G and higher hyper-fast mobile networks is self-driving cars. For the movement of robotic vehicles, constant communication with cloud services will become a prerequisite. South Korea is now more open to testing self-driving cars on public roads than any other technologically advanced country, and 55% of Koreans are ready to use a robotic taxi instead of their own car, consulting company Roland Berger noted in a recent study of mobility market trends.
In 2017, Hyundai demonstrated Level 4 autonomous driving systems (a car can drive on paved roads without human control) on Ioniq cars in Las Vegas, USA, and during the 2018 Olympics, it sent a 190-kilometer run from Seoul to Pyeongchang Nexo crossovers and Genesis G80 self-driving sedans. In August 2018, the company carried out the first trip on a public highway in South Korea with a self-driving truck tractor. An Xcient truck with a semi-trailer traveled about 40 km on the highway between Uiwang and Incheon, controlled by a level 3 autonomous driving system (takes over steering, acceleration and deceleration, and maneuvering in traffic under the supervision of the driver).
Hyundai Motor, together with the American startup Aurora Innovation, which is engaged in autonomous driving technologies, is going to bring the level 4 system to commercial use in cities specially prepared for robotic cars by 2021, and by 2030 expects to launch a fully autonomous driving system on the market ( 5th level, without human controls).
The development of artificial intelligence (AI) technologies necessary for autonomous cars in Hyundai Motor Group is carried out by two research centers – the AI Research Lab in Korea and the AI Research Center in the United States. In addition, the company has a dedicated Hyundai Cradle division responsible for venture capital investment and innovation business.
A separate structure should more clearly and quickly respond to new and promising trends in the automotive and transport industry. A month earlier, a Korean company invested in Perceptive Automata, an American startup that develops software for autonomous cars. The predictive technology Perceptive Automata should allow robotic cars to recognize the mood of road users – pedestrians, motorcyclists, cyclists and motorists – and quickly make decisions based on people’s intentions.
Until fully autonomous cars hit the roads, their individual systems are already being used in different situations. For example, adaptive cruise control and active steering with automatic lane keeping, in fact, the initial stage of the autopilot. So far, Hyundai is developing an automated charging system for electric vehicles while they are parked: the driver will be able to send the car to the queue for wireless charging from a smartphone and pick it up when he needs it, with a fresh battery.
The development of another startup in which Hyundai has invested, the Swiss WayRay, was presented at the CES-2019 consumer electronics show in Las Vegas. The company showed the world’s first navigation system using holographic augmented reality. Installed on the Genesis G80 sedan, the system superimposes a three-dimensional image on the road, adjusting to the position of the driver’s eyes. The holographic augmented reality display projects an image through the windshield, and the 3.1 by 1.3 m virtual image is located 15 m from the driver’s eyes, giving him navigation system prompts and warnings.
Caring for the environment
Probably one of the biggest challenges for automakers right now is changing consumer attitudes towards the environment. People, especially in large cities, are aware that they feel bad and get sick, including due to the high concentration of cars and exhaust gases. According to the World Health Organization, air pollution caused 7 million premature deaths worldwide in 2012.
500,000 people died from bad air in China in 2013, and 430,000 people died in Europe in 2016. The main air pollutant causing health problems is nitrogen oxides (NOx), the largest share of which – 40% – comes from road transport, primarily with diesel engines, which emit 80% of all NOx emissions from transport. Road transport accounts for 83% of all emissions in Moscow, the Center for Chemical Expertise reported.
Following the diesel emissions scandal, authorities in many countries have begun to further tighten clean air legislation. In the European Union, on September 1, 2018, a new WLTP emission test standard was introduced, which excluded the possibility of selling many diesel cars. Cars that burn hydrocarbons are often blamed for climate change on the planet. Tightening carbon dioxide (CO2) emission regulations in the US, China and Europe are the main reason for the switch to electric vehicles, representatives of various car companies said.