Hyundai Motor Group is gearing up efforts to develop self-driving cars amid explosive interest in the historic go match between Google's artificial intelligence (AI) AlphaGo and Korea's top-ranked Lee Se-dol.
Google is a step ahead in this sector. However, Hyundai Motor will be competitive enough when the company jumps into the business in earnest since there is only a small technical gap.
According to industry sources on March 15, Hyundai Motor and its smaller affiliate Kia Motors are aiming to commercialize self-driving cars within five years. In order to do so, they will invest over 2 trillion won (US$1.68 billion), and make every effort to develop various autonomous driving technologies, including the autonomous driving system in congested areas, and hire more experts.
Hyundai-Kia Motors is working together with Hyundai Motor Group’s subsidiaries, such as Hyundai Mobis, Hyundai MnSOFT and Hyundai Autron, and component partner companies in research and development. In particular, the group seeks to domestically produce high-precision sensors, which are currently monopolized by some component producers, including Bosch, in the recognition sector, which figures out surroundings through various sensors. It plans to improve its recognition technologies by expanding the application of high-definition cameras with diverse functions and developing advanced recognition systems with more than two sensors.
It is also focusing on hiring more experts in driverless vehicles. Hyundai Motor Group now independently operates an intelligent safety research team at Uiwang R&D Center and an advanced assistant system (ADAS) research team at Namyang R&D Center to develop self-driving technologies. It also has a separate office in Silicon Valley in the U.S. to strengthen information gathering about autonomous driving and artificial intelligence.
Preparations for test driving, the prelude stage of driverless vehicle commercialization, is now proceeding well. Hyundai Motor and Kia Motors submitted their applications for autonomous test drives of the Tucson fuel cell vehicle and the Soul electric vehicle to the Ministry of Land, Infrastructure and Transport (MOLIT) on March 14.
Previously, the MOLIT started receiving applications for test drives of autonomous cars from February 12 and the Hyundai Genesis got a license for a test drive and license plate on March 7 for the first time.
Meanwhile, Google is believed to have already reached the fifth stage, which means a fully self-driving car, from one to five stages of the driverless car development. It is likely to commercialize a low-speed autonomous car, which can travel from 30 to 40 kilometers per hour, in two to three years.