Hyundai pushes for commercial self-driving cars by 2020

The automaker hopes viable partially-automated cars will be on the market by 2020 with fully self-driving cars soon to follow.

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Hyundai

Hyundai is investing heavily in self-driving cars and believes five-year steps will lead to fully autonomous cars appearing on our roads by 2030.

As the world becomes more connected through Internet access, mobility, wearables and Big Data, self-driving and autonomous vehicles made possible through networking and advanced computer systems are becoming a research area which has piqued the interest of automakers and technology firms worldwide. Google's self-driving car, Tesla's electric vehicles and wireless charging stations, and Ford's fuel ecosystems are only some of the research projects currently underway in the industry.

Hazard sensors, rear-facing cameras and vehicle operating systems -- such as Apple's CarPlay and Google's Android Auto -- are all being rolled out to today's new cars, but the idea of a fully autonomous vehicle remains the holy grail for automakers.

Google, General Motors and Mercedes are both pushing ahead with developing the technology required for this concept, but South Korean automaker Hyundai plans to catch up.

On Tuesday, according to the Korea Herald, at a demonstration held in Songdo, west of Seoul, Hyundai executives said the firm is pushing for the commercialization of autonomous vehicles "in phases" from 2020, with the overall aim of fully autonomous driving possible in 2030.

The company is adopting a highway driving assist system in its vehicles during the second half of this year, and plans to go further to improve customer safety through the so-called "traffic jam assist system," demonstrated in South Korea. The system detects and analyzes other cars and obstacles, helping the driver navigate through congestion with a minimum of effort.

These kinds of technology mark the first of multiple steps Hyundai plans to take in developing fully self-driving cars. The firm says it plans to commercialize semi-autonomous vehicles from 2020, once the technology to "maximize" driver safety in different conditions is up to scratch.

See also: Self-driving cars may be the future but consumers don't buy it

At the event, a senior Hyundai official said:

"We aim to provide partially automated driving in 2015, highly automated driving in 2020 and fully automated driving in 2030."

In January this year, Hyundai said it would invest 80.7 trillion won ($73.3 billion) in the smart car industry over the next four years. Two new factories are slated for construction in China and Russia. In addition, the automaker plans to hire over 7,000 new researchers and engineers to develop smarter vehicles.

Read on: In the world of innovation

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