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Future mobility

Hyundai to run IONIQ5 self-driving robotaxi pilot service in H1, 2022

With the robotaxi, Hyundai has become one of the world’s first companies to achieve Level 4 autonomy

By Nov 25, 2021 (Gmt+09:00)

Hyundai's IONIQ5-based autonomous robotaxi
Hyundai's IONIQ5-based autonomous robotaxi

South Korea’s top automaker Hyundai Motor Co. will launch a pilot service of its first autonomous robotaxi based on its electric SUV, the IONIQ5, in Seoul in the first half of 2022.

The Hyundai IONIQ5 robotaxi, equipped with the hardware and software needed for Level 4 self-driving capabilities, will showcase the automaker’s future mobility technology, the company said on Thursday.

At Level 4, a vehicle can drive itself under limited conditions, just shy of Level 5, which enables fully automated driving.

Dubbed RoboRide, the pilot service will be conducted in a designated district in downtown Seoul.

“We’re developing a fully autonomous driving technology to ensure that everyone moves safely and comfortably,” said Jang Woong-jun, head of Hyundai’s autonomous driving center, at the 2021 Seoul Mobility Show, Korea’s largest motor show.

Hyundai's IONIQ5-based autonomous robotaxi
Hyundai's IONIQ5-based autonomous robotaxi

The robotaxi will have a lidar sensor, which detects and tracks vehicles, pedestrians and other obstructions to help autonomous vehicles safely navigate at various speeds, on its roof.

The vehicle will also be equipped with other self-driving capabilities, including radar, cameras and dozens of sensors, to provide the vehicle’s sensing system with 360 degrees of vision and the ability to see up to 300 meters.

The robotaxi also comes with dual redundancy, a driving assistant system to ensure safe autonomous driving, according to Hyundai.

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To prepare for a global commercial service, Hyundai and its US mobility joint venture Motional Inc. tested the IONIQ5 robotaxis on public roads in Las Vegas early this year, becoming one of the world’s first companies to achieve Level 4 autonomy.

Hyundai aims to launch commercial service of its driverless cars in the US by 2023 in partnership with US ride-sharing platform Lyft.

IONIQ6 concept Prophecy
IONIQ6 concept Prophecy

Hyundai’s move to launch a robotaxi comes as global automakers are muscling into the increasingly competitive landscape.

Amazon.com Inc. acquired self-driving start-up Zoox Inc. in June last year to enter the robotaxi business, while Alphabet Inc.’s Waymo has forged a partnership with Volvo Cars and expanded its relationship with Fiat Chrysler Automobiles NV.

At the Seoul Mobility Show, which runs through Dec. 5, Hyundai said it will launch the IONIQ6, a mid-size sedan and the company’s second all-electric vehicle that sits on its proprietary E-GMP EV platform, next year.

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Meanwhile, Kia Corp., Hyundai’s sister firm, has made a world debut of its new Niro SUV at the Seoul motor show. Kia is launching the new model for the first time in five years since its first version of the Niro lineup hit the market in 2016.

Kia said it will unveil a hybrid Niro SUV in the first half of next year, while an electric-version Niro will be available in the second half.

To support wider EV adoption in Korea, Hyundai Motor Group said it will build more high-speed electric car charging infrastructure across the country.

Hyundai said in March it plans to build a total of 120 ultra-fast chargers at its charging stations under the E-pit brand by the end of 2021.

Hyundai Motor's EV charging station E-pit
Hyundai Motor's EV charging station E-pit

At the Seoul auto show, a number of foreign auto brands also unveiled their latest premium electric models to appeal to Korean customers.

Mercedes-Benz on Thursday showcased its first luxury EV sedan EQS, while BMW and Audi unveiled the iX and A6 e-tron concept, respectively, at the show.

While Porsche teased its Panamera 4 E-hybrid platinum edition at the show, the first unveiling in Asia, Maserati put its two-seater super sports car MC20 on display.

A total of 78 models, including 19 new cars, from 100 automakers around the world, are participating in this year’s Seoul Mobility Show, formerly known as the Seoul Motor Show.

Write to Il-Gue Kim and Hyung-Kyu Kim at Black0419@hankyung.com

In-Soo Nam edited this article.

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