Hyundai has just completed South Korea's longest level 4 autonomous driving demonstration with a hydrogen fuel cell-powered NEXO test vehicle. Five cars drove themselves 190 km (118 mi) from Seoul to Pyeongchang, self-managing everything from highway lane changes to toll booths.
The road trip that began in Seoul on February 2 involved five vehicles, three Nexo SUVs and two Genesis G80s, that had all been modified for autonomous driving. The drivers got things rolling by pushing the "cruise" and "set" buttons on the steering wheel at the same time to engage self-driving mode, and they didn't intervene again for nearly 200 km.
Level 4 autonomy, as we covered in our self driving autonomy levels breakdown, means drivers are able to keep their hands off the wheel and their mind off the road at least some of the time. These Hyundais met that level of autonomy, managing speeds up to 110 km/h (68 mph), overtaking slower vehicles, changing lanes when the cars felt it was necessary, and using Hi-Pass toll gates without human intervention.
The team had paid special attention to improving the cars' external sensors to help the car safely navigate though toll gates, negotiate road junctions and keep an accurate track of the location of the vehicles in areas where GPS signals were cut off, such as in long underground tunnels.
Hyundai will release the fuel cell electric Nexo in Korea next month, but we'll have to wait for an autonomous model. The automaker says it plans to have vehicles with level 4 autonomy commercially available by 2021, with fully autonomous (that's level 5) vehicles on the market by 2030.
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