A fleet of Hyundai’s next generation NEXO fuel cell electric cars, fitted with autonomous technology, has successfully completed a self-driven 190 kilometer highway journey in Korea. It was the longest distance covered by a self-driving vehicle on Korean roads and included travel at speeds of up to 110 km/h, the maximum allowed. It followed previous successful tests at lower speeds and on local roads.
Three NEXO models took part in the drive, with the next-generation fuel cell electric SUV scheduled to be released in Korea next month. All vehicles were equipped with level 4 self-driving technology, as defined by the SAE international standards. This allows the car to safely drive itself without any human input, referred to as ‘mind off’ autonomy.
The demonstration started in Seoul with the ‘CRUISE’ and ‘SET’ buttons being pressed on the autonomous-driving steering wheel of each vehicle, at which point the cars immediately switched to self-driving mode and began the 190 km journey to Pyeongchang. Entering the highway, the vehicles moved in response to the natural flow of traffic. They executed lane changes and overtaking maneuvers, and navigated toll gates using a wireless expressway payment system.
Building on Hyundai’s successful demonstration of autonomous prototypes early last year, the cars featured a number of refinements that enabled them to recognize surrounding vehicles more accurately, make better judgements at junctions and at branching roads, navigate through toll gates by accurately calculating the toll gate’s width and position, and precisely pinpoint the vehicle’s position on a map by using external sensors fitted for situations when the GPS signal was interrupted, such as going through long underground tunnels.
“Hyundai’s philosophy for developing autonomous driving technology is to provide the highest level of safety combined with a high standard of convenience that our customers expect,” said Jinwoo Lee, head of the Intelligent Safety Technology Center at Hyundai Motor Group.
The NEXO fuel cell electric SUV can drive more than 600 km on a single charge, which takes approximately five minutes. The model boasts world-class system efficiency of 60%, durability equivalent to internal combustion engine-driven vehicles and a load space of 839 liters.