Hyundai Motor Group announced today that it will be forming an autonomous driving joint venture in the U.S. with Aptiv, one of the industry’s most innovative vehicle technology providers. The joint venture will advance the design, development, and commercialization of SAE Level 4 and 5 autonomous technologies. HMG will collectively contribute 2 billion US dollars. Here’s why HMG is planning to spend this much money and the importance of technologies for autonomous vehicles.
Autonomous driving will be a paradigm shift in the automotive industry. The acronym C.A.S.E.(Connectivity, Autonomous, Sharing and Service, Electrification) and M.E.C.A.(Mobility, Electrification, Connectivity, Autonomous) appeared on the scene recently as names for the vehicles of the future. Within a more complex and diversified mobility industry landscape, incumbent players are forced to simultaneously compete on multiple fronts and cooperate with competitors.
Autonomous driving will be a paradigm shift in the automotive industry. Autonomous vehicles present a tremendous value offering for consumers (e.g., the ability to do whatever while driving, advanced safety, energy efficiency). Most industry players and experts agree that the technologies for autonomous vehicles will reinforce and accelerate sustainable development.
Ride-hailing businesses would need to transform the focal point of their supply chains from sourcing drivers to sourcing autonomous vehicles capable of transporting passengers on-demand. Uber, for example, announced back in 2015 that it will begin its on-demand service combined with self-driving technology.
Carmakers and suppliers seem set to embark on unprecedented collaboration to work on key technologies and industry standards for autonomous driving. Major parts suppliers are known to be taking part. The two companies have several exploratory joint ventures in the field, including Daimler, the maker of Mercedes-Benz cars, with Bosch, and BMW with Intel and Israeli startup Mobileye. GM recently bought Cruise Automation to speed its self-driving strategy.
Hyundai Motor Group in the Era of M.E.C.A.
HMG is preparing to thrive in the future mobility market through various cooperations. Under the agreement with Rimac and Ionity, both EV startups, HMG will play a key role in further enhancing the availability of EV charging stations with additional convenience benefits for its customers. HMG’s participation in these joint ventures reaffirms the Group’s commitment to future electromobility.
HMG seeks to accelerate its transition from a car manufacturer to a smart mobility systems provider, strengthening partnerships with international companies such as Grab and Ola, and with domestic mobility startups Code42 and KST Mobility.
HMG is also working on to improve its voice recognition technology and user interface, by cooperating with Nuance and Sound Hound. Also, HMG’s independently-developed ccOS (connected car Operating System) will bring advanced integrated technologies to customers.
HMG announced at the CES 2019 that it will offer better connectivity worldwide. The carmaker is currently developing an operating system – a cloud platform and network technology for connected, autonomous cars.
The most important thing, of course, will be the cooperation and investment in self-driving technology. CaaS(Car as a Service), MaaS(Mobility as a Service), of TaaS(Transportation as a Service) will also develop with self-driving technologies. Consumers will be able to enjoy sweet rides when car-sharing services become autonomous(Autonomous Vehicle TaaS).
HMG announced partnerships with Aurora(a self-driving service startup), Baidu(an AI company), Yandex(a robot-taxi company), Nvidia(an AI platform developer), and Opsys(a LiDAR manufacturer). This time HMG formed a joint venture with Aptiv to manufacture level 4 autonomous cars.
Hyundai Motor Group in the Era of M.E.C.A.
Hyundai first began testing autonomous vehicles on public roads in the US in 2015 with a license from the state of Nevada, right after Audi got theirs. During CES in 2017, Hyundai advanced its trials in urban environments, demonstrating level 4 self-driving technologies to the public. One year later, Aptiv has been in Las Vegas on a public trial of autonomous Robo-taxi services since debuting the capabilities at CES in 2018.
Hyundai’s self-driving system for highways has been properly considered a Level 2 autonomous feature, similar to Tesla’s Autopilot. The two automakers have been the first in the automotive industry.
Aptiv spun out of Delphi Automotive. It is contributing its autonomous driving technology, intellectual property, and approximately 700 employees focused on the development of scalable autonomous driving solutions. It operates more than 100 autonomous vehicles on multiple continents. To date, it has the best mobility solution portfolio.
Ride-hailing company Aptiv was offering a self-driving taxi service in Las Vegas during the show at the CES 2018. With a Level 4 autonomous car, it did venture out onto the main roads and offered passengers ride to 20 preset destinations. The impressive part was that while other companies such as the Navya have canceled their demonstration due to bad weather, Aptiv still succeeded, and the audiences paid a lot of attention to this company from Pittsburgh.
Here is some history of the company. Ottomatika Inc., a Carnegie Mellon University spinoff company that provides software and systems development for self-driving vehicles, was acquired by the global vehicle technology company Delphi Automotive PLC in 2015. The Ottomatika deal highlighted Carnegie Mellon’s advanced expertise in complex autonomous vehicle systems and in creating exciting companies and technologies that are highly sought after by industry. In yet another acquisition move within the vehicular autonomy market, Delphi Automotive purchased MIT-based NuTonomy back in 2017, to double its research staff and add compatible software systems. After then, Delphi established Aptiv and its engineers have been leading the development of software for high-performing self-driving cars since the historic DARPA Challenge.
Back in 2015, Aptive completed the longest automated vehicle drive ever – traveling nearly 3,400 miles from San Francisco to New York City, with 99 percent of the trip in fully automated mode. The vehicle successfully navigated through complex driving situations collecting data essential to advancing the emerging active safety technology sector.
Aptiv and Lyft, which launched a low-key commercial Robo-taxi service in Las Vegas last year, say they’ve hit an early goal by giving rides to tens of thousands of paying customers. The commercial program, which started after the CES 2018, has logged more than 70,000 individual trips until September 2019. Market research firm Navigant Research put Aptiv at No.4 among automated driving system companies.
What is interesting is that Korean engineers have been leading the development of Aptiv’s autonomous driving system since day one in Carnegie Melon. And the Korean automaker Hyundai Motor Group could benefit from this as well.
HMG and Aptiv, the Partnership Bridging the Gap
Hyundai is getting particularly serious about its self-driving car strategy. So far Hyundai marketed Level 2 autonomous technology through in Korea but not in the U.S. The Korean carmaker could foster Level 4 and Level 5 autonomous technology through this joint venture with Aptiv, and it will give Aptiv’s technology a tremendous scale. Aptiv will contribute not only its autonomous driving technology but also geographic information in the U.S. required for level 4-5 autonomous technology.
The key difference between Level 2-3 and Level 4 automation is that Level 4 vehicles can intervene if things go wrong or there is a system failure. While the driver should be present and take charge if necessary for the previous levels, Level 4 vehicles is what is meant by ‘fully autonomous.’
The new firm would begin testing fully driverless systems and have a production-ready autonomous driving platform available for Robotaxi providers, fleet operators, and automakers by 2022. HMG aims to commercialize its level 4 autonomous vehicles in 2024.
With Hyundai investing heavily in developing new technologies for electrified and autonomous vehicles, the partnership with Aptiv would be a game-changer, helping Hyundai speed up automation for future vehicles.
Words. Gu-Min Jeong
Professor, School of Electrical Engineering, Kookmin University, South Korea
Chair, Automotive EE & Communication Committee, KATS(Korean Agency for Technology and Standards)
Chair, Infineon Center, Kookmin University
Chair, Hyundai AUTOSAR Center, Kookmin University
An analyst/columnist for CES, MWC, etc., trying to talk about future mobility
The opinions in this column are the author’s subjective opinions, and may not represent the editorial direction of Hyundai Motor Group Tech