If so, it would be the second major automaker to achieve this goal.
Hyundai's global chief safety officer has confirmed that the South Korean automaker is "very close" to achieving Level 3 self-driving capabilities. Per Automotive News Canada, Brian Latouf said the carmaker is "intensely focused" on achieving this goal and wants to ensure it does so correctly.
To date, Mercedes-Benz is the only automaker to have successfully achieved Level 3 capability. It announced the news late last month when its Drive Pilot semi-autonomous driving technology received approval from the state of Nevada.
Additional states like California are expected to certify the tech shortly. As for Hyundai, Latouf added that it aims to begin deploying its Level 3 system in South Korea.
"In the Korean market, we're looking at introducing a Level-3 that's kind of a highway drive pilot type of system that is on just highways alone and limiting certain speeds," said Latouf. However, the executive clarified that the technology is not yet production ready. Safety and "advanced data analytics" are among the fine-tuning that's still required.
"We have a very structured process to look across our different data streams to say, 'hey, are we having some power steering failures that could create lateral risk and perhaps crashes,' and then we act upon it," he added. "So, it's a very good, technically based data analytics investigation recall decision process."
Assuming the technology meets Hyundai's safety and technology goals, the next step is to seek regulatory approval in North America. The carmaker pledges it will work closely with government safety agencies, specifically the National Highway Transportation Safety Administration, "to make sure we do things correctly here."
Last year, Hyundai began constructing its new Michigan-based, $5.16 billion Safety Test and Investigation Laboratory in preparation for the upcoming US market testing. Hyundai has not explicitly said which model(s) will be among the first to receive the Level 3 semi-autonomous system. Still, we suspect one of its EVs, such as the Ioniq 5 and new Ioniq 6, will be given the honors. The former is already being tested as a robotaxi in Las Vegas and by Uber as part of Motional, Hyundai's mobility subsidiary.
Late last year, Motional cut down on its workforce due to financial issues. The autonomous vehicle startup is a separate entity from Hyundai Motor Group, and we don't know how the carmaker plans to balance its relationship with Motional and its own in-house-developed Level 3 technology.
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