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Hyundai, Aptiv to co-develop robotaxi platform

Hands free: Hyundai Motor Group executive vice chairman Euisun Chung (left) inks an autonomous driving joint-venture agreement with Aptiv president and CEO Kevin Clark.

Self-driving platform to become available from 2022 as Hyundai inks JV with Aptiv

24 Sep 2019

HYUNDAI Motor Group (HMG) will form a 50:50 joint venture with Aptiv, a technology spin-off from Tier 1 automotive supplier Delphi, to develop an autonomous vehicle platform that will be made available to robotaxi operators, fleets and third-party vehicle manufacturers as soon as 2022.


The $US4 billion ($A5.91b) joint venture will be headquartered in Boston, Massachusetts, and aims to “advance the development of production-ready autonomous driving systems for commercialisation of Level 4 and 5 self-driving technologies”.


Aptiv’s contribution will include access to around 700 employees, autonomous driving technology and related intellectual property.


Hyundai Motor, Kia Motors and in-house component supplier Hyundai Mobis will collectively contribute resources valued at $US400 million in the areas of intellectual property, engineering and research and development, along with $US1.6 billion in cash.


At the helm will be Karl Iagnemma, who co-founded autonomous vehicle software company nuTonomy that was acquired by Delphi for $US450m in 2017 and rolled into Aptiv, along with autonomous vehicle research start-up Ottomatika, which Delphi bought in 2015 for $US32m.


Testing of fully driverless systems will commence next year, with a goal of releasing the planned production-ready autonomous platform in 2022.


In addition to its Boston base, the joint venture will have technology centres across the United States and Asia, including South Korea, which will serve as a hub for vehicle modification and a testbed for mobility service platforms associated with autonomous driving.


The South Korean facility will leverage the country’s well-established 5G mobile infrastructure, as well as Hyundai’s local automotive clout, in accelerating technological developments.


HMG executive vice-chairman Euisun Chung described the joint venture as “the start of a journey with Aptiv toward our common goal of commercialising autonomous driving”.


“The combined capabilities of Aptiv, a leading global technology company, and our group, a global OEM, will create invaluable synergy to lead the autonomous driving landscape,” he said.


HMG’s autonomous ambitions have come into clear view this year, the joint venture with Aptiv coming hot on the heels of an investment in Silicon Valley-based autonomous technology firm Aurora Innovation on the back of an existing partnership forged in early 2018 with a view to develop Level 4 self-driving vehicles for use in select ‘smart cities’ by 2021.


The group plans a more general release of its own Level 4 autonomous electric vehicle by 2025, capable of automated valet parking and wireless charging.


Captive venture capital arm Hyundai Cradle has also invested in Perceptive Automata, a technology firm with bases in Somerville, Massachusetts and Silicon Valley that is developing a digital version of human intuition that will help autonomous vehicles better predict the behaviour of pedestrians, cyclists and other road users.


Last year, Hyundai conducted the first autonomous highway truck journey in South Korea with a Level 3 self-driving loaded semitrailer guiding itself 40km along public roads between the cities of Uiwang and Incheon.


To do so, South Korean authorities had to grant the first temporary driving licence for a heavy truck.


The company is also forging links in the vehicle electrification space, purchasing an €80m ($A129.8m) stake in Croatian EV specialist Rimac earlier this year and announcing a partnership that promises to yield a new crop of high-performance models based on battery and hydrogen fuel cell technology.

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