Hyundai test rides first driverless fuel cell car; wants to sell 10,000 by 2022
Image credit: hyundai
South Korean automaker Hyundai has started testing a driverless version of its fuel cell car that has successfully completed a 190km trial journey from Seoul to Pyeongchang.
The company boasted that this was the first time in the world that ‘level 4’ autonomous driving has been achieved with fuel cell vehicles.
At a press conference the company said it hopes to sell 10,000 fuel cell vehicles by 2022, with or without driverless technology, prior to its commercial launch in South Korea next month.
The emissions-free vehicle has an estimated driving range of 609km on a five-minute fill-up.
Despite the clear range and refuelling advantages that fuel cell technology offers, it’s increasingly being usurped by electric vehicles globally due to the lack of hydrogen refuelling stations and the relatively high-energy intensity process needed to create the fuel in the first place.
Until now, autonomous driving has been demonstrated only on selected sections of Korean domestic roads and at a limited speed.
The fuel cell test represents the first time autonomous vehicles have operated on public highways at 110km/h, the maximum speed allowed by law on Korean highways.
Three Hyundai vehicles completed the journey, all based on NEXO, Hyundai’s next-generation fuel cell electric vehicle.
During the trial the vehicles moved in response to the natural flow of traffic on the highway, executed lane changes, overtaking manoeuvres and navigated toll gates using Hi-pass, South-Korea’s wireless expressway payment system.
Hyundai has conducted a significant number of highway test drives in South Korea amounting to hundreds of thousands of miles travelled overall.
Jinwoo Lee, Head of the Intelligent Safety Technology Centre at Hyundai Motor Group said: “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.”
The self-driving vehicles used for the demonstration look similar to Hyundai’s other mass-produced models but are installed with additional cameras and lidar sensors.
A Labour MP in the UK recently alleged that consumers were being mis-sold on the effective range of electric cars by auto dealers.