Lately, the automobile industry has been engulfed by this intense ambition of producing a “car for the future” as they term it. The idea of self-driven vehicles which was born out of man’s desire to conquer the seemingly impossible scientific concepts and has given rise to tough competition between automakers. This competition has brought about the development of various concept self-driven cars by many car companies.
The latest automaker to join this struggle is the Hyundai which aims to produce a high-level self-driving car by 2021. They proved this by unveiling five level 4 prototypes that completed a 189 kilometres journey on their own. Three out of these five prototypes were their new fuel cell car (a car that moves by using energy produced by the conversion of hydrogen into electric power through the electrochemical process), the Hyundai nexo making it the first self-driving powered by the fuel cell.
The journey took place in South Korea and mostly on highways between Seoul and Pyeongchang. There were also urban challenges in the form of toll gates and traffic. These level 4 vehicles mean that they can only handle certain conditions on their own but require a driver to take back the control when not driving in the specified condition. Not so cool right?
Level 5 autonomous cars can handle all conditions on their own, and this is the final goal that Hyundai hopes to achieve by 2030. It should be noted that many automakers believe that production of level 5 autonomous cars might be decades away. So can Hyundai achieve this fit? Let’s hope so
Hyundai also explained why a fuel car was chosen for this demonstration, stating that self-driving cars process many volumes of information which can, in turn, drain an electric car’s battery substantially. A fuel cell powered car which produces its electric power internally was a wiser option for now.
Hyundai partnered with Aurora innovation, a U.S based firm to develop this self-driving technology. Other automakers that have partnered with the self-driving technology firm include Volkswagen, Tesla and Uber.
Hyundai ended the exhibition by stating that their level 4 self-driving cars will only be available in cities where various types of electronic data like traffic light information and map are obtainable. What this means is that Hyundai’s autonomous cars can at first only operate where there’s a mapped level of infrastructure. So its safe to say that these lovely definitions of modern technology in the form of cars should not be expected to drive themselves on the streets of poor or undeveloped countries, at least for the main time.
We’ll just have to keep our fingers crossed and watch what the future holds for this latest innovation. Maybe one day we’ll be going on long journeys without a human driver behind the steering wheel. It scares me though, but I love technology so much that I might want to experience the feeling first hand.