Recruitment begins soon.
There's a very good chance that within the next decade or so, we'll all have the ability to summon a self-driving vehicle via an app on our smartphones. It's also very likely that the vehicle will be a van or another similarly designed people hauler. Hyundai isn't wasting any time getting started. The automaker will begin a pilot program next month in its home market of South Korea to test what it very appropriately calls the "RoboShuttle."
A diesel-powered Hyundai H350 van has been fitted with advanced self-driving hardware and software technologies to create a demand-responsive, high-occupancy vehicle with Level 4 autonomous driving capabilities. To clarify, a human being is still sitting in the driver's seat in case something goes wrong. Level 5 autonomy is the highest rating possible where no human involvement is needed.
AI will handle everything, for better or worse. The technology was developed in-house by Hyundai's Autonomous Driving Center. A license for Level 3 autonomous driving has already been granted by South Korea's Land, Infrastructure, and Transport ministry. Why Level 3 and not 4? We're guessing because the government isn't confident enough yet in the latter.
The van's safety driver will still be required to pay some attention, but the van's tech is capable of perceiving its surroundings, making decisions, and driving itself on the open road with minimal help from the driver.
A 3.7-mile route with 20 stops has been designed in Sejong Smart City, South Korea. Beginning this month, Hyundai is recruiting the first RoboShuttle passengers who'll have the ability to summon the van with the Shucle ("Shuttle" and "Circle") app. If successful, the program will expand to other cities, but the press release made no mention of it coming to the US, at least not yet. It wouldn't be without precedent though.
Waymo is currently testing its fleet of self-driving Chrysler Pacific Hybrid minivans in parts of California and Arizona, for example. Who knows? Perhaps the Hyundai Palisade three-row crossover could one day also be modified with self-driving technologies for shuttle purposes.