Hyundai introduced an autonomous version of the electric Ioniq 5 hatchback that uses its battery pack to power a wide selection of sensors. This prototype may look like it has been assimilated by the Borg, but it's scheduled to join the Lyft ride-hailing fleet in the near future.
Boston-based Motional helped Hyundai teach the Ioniq 5 how to drive itself. The car relies on over 30 sensors (including cameras, radars, and lidars) to deliver level four autonomy, meaning it can drive itself without requiring human input in a variety of conditions. Machine learning will allegedly help the Ioniq learn new tricks as it goes.
Motional — which was formed in March 2020 as a joint-venture between Hyundai and Aptiv — explained it added safety redundancies to every single vehicle function, like steering and braking, to ensure a safe and smooth ride. Its engineers will also be able to provide the prototypes with remote assistance if they encounter an unusual road scenario, like flooding or, oddly, construction, which is hardly unusual when driving on paved public roads.
Most of the hardware that powers the Ioniq 5 is clearly visible, so no one will mistake it for a human-driven car. Inside, users will be able to communicate with the robotaxi through a purpose-designed interface; they'll notably be able to request an additional stop. There's no word yet on whether there will be a safety driver behind the wheel.
Motional and Hyundai plan to begin building the autonomous Ioniq 5 in 2023, but you won't be able to buy one. Instead, the experimental EVs will be deployed in a handful of markets across America via a partnership with Lyft.