Hyundai leads way with long-distance autonocars

  • Nexo fuel-cell car in longest-yet on-road demo
  • Level 4 autonomy for vehicles in smart cities by 2021
  • Commercial autonomy technology ‘by 2030’
HYUNDAI AUTONOCARS GO LONG-DISTANCE. Image: Hyundai Motors / Newspress
HYUNDAI AUTONOCARS GO LONG-DISTANCE. Image: Hyundai Motors / Newspress

SEOUL, South Korea – Three next-generation Hyundai fuel-cell electric vehicles have completed an autonomous 120km journey from Seoul to Pyeongchang.

It was the first time Level 4 autonocars had achieved that distance though autonomous driving had been demonstrated only on sections of Korean roads at up to the country’s national highway speed of 110km/h.

Three Hyundais completed the journey, each powered by Nexo, Hyundai’s next-generation fuel-cell scheduled for release in Korea in March 2018. Each carried Level 4 self-driving tech (as defined by the SAE international standards and using a 5G network).

HYUNDAI AUTONOCARS GO LONG-DISTANCE. Image: Hyundai Motors / Newspress
HYUNDAI AUTONOCARS GO LONG-DISTANCE. Image: Hyundai Motors / Newspress

The demonstration started in Seoul on February 2 (2018) with the ‘CRUISE’ and ‘SET’ buttons being pressed on each autonocar’s steering-wheel at which point the cars immediately switched to self-driving for the ride to Pyeongchang.


Hyundai reports that they joined the highway and immediately moved in response to the flow of traffic, executing lane changes, overtaking and navigating toll gates using Hi-pass, South-Korea’s wireless expressway payment system.

The test built on a successful demonstration of Hyundai autonocars which, early in 2017, drove themselves in Las Vegas during the Consumer Electronics Show.

The latest cars can recognise nearby vehicles more accurately, make better judgements at junctions, and use toll gates – that last by accurately calculating the gate’s width and position.

The vehicles are also able to pinpoint their position on a map by using external sensors fitted for situations when the GPS signal can be interrupted, such in a tunnel.

READ MORE Hyundai features on Carman’s Corner

Hyundai has conducted a significant number of highway tests amounting to hundreds of thousands of kilometres travelled while accumulating data to enhance the autonocars’ performance.

Jinwoo Lee, head of Hyundai’s Intelligent Safety Technology Centre, told Carman’s Corner in a media communcation: ”Our philosophy for developing autonocars involves the highest level of safety combined with a high standard of convenience for owners.”

The cabin and exterior and autonocars used for the latest demo look like those of Hyundai’s other mass-produced units but have extra cameras and LIDAR .


Autonocars process a high volume of data which requires mjuch power-consumption but, Hyundai says, their autonocars car meet this demand while still powering the drive system though a reaction between hydrogen and oxygen in the fuel-cell stack.

READ MORE on autonomous vehicles on Carman’s Corner

The only exhaust emission is water vapour.

The Nexo fuel-cell electric vehicle has a target range of 800km on a single charge of hydrogen and takes only five minutes to refuel. Hyundai claims an efficiency of 60%, durability equivalent to internal combustion vehicles and boot volume of 839 litres.

HYUNDAI AUTONOCARS GO LONG-DISTANCE. Image: Hyundai Motors / Newspress
HYUNDAI AUTONOCARS GO LONG-DISTANCE. Image: Hyundai Motors / Newspress

The tech does not, however, stop there… rear passengers can use Home Connect, car-to-home technology for them to access and control “Internet of Things” devices in their home: view domestic camera images, control dwelling lighting, set door locks, control the TV and manage home energy systems.

“Assistant Chat” is a technology for users to question a Chat Bot and be answered with text or images.

“Wellness Care” can monitor passengers’ health: stress level, heart rate, mood. It can access relaxing therapeutic services and connect with a health consultant through a live video link.

Last, but important, users can receive real-time traffic information in Korean, English, or Chinese.

Hyundai is preparing for the commercialisation of Level 4 autonocars in smart cities in 2021.


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