South Korean car manufacturer Hyundai has announced that it plans to make semi-autonomous vehicles available this year.
The next model of the Hyundai Equus will include a feature will allow for semi-autonomous driving.
Through new collision avoidance features, as well as automatic lane changing and speed control, highway driving will only need a bare minimum of driver input. Drivers of the new Equus will be able to take their hands off the wheel and feet off the pedals while driving along these roads.
Additionally, during urban driving ‘traffic jam assistance’ technology will allow for more autonomous capabilities at low speed.
“It is time for us to take a leap in quality and to lead in the global race for environment-friendly, energy-efficient and high-tech cars,” said Kim Choong-ho, the president and CEO of Hyundai, during a media briefing.
Rather than work on fully autonomous vehicles like those planned by Google and Toyota, Hyundai believes these semi-autonomous vehicles are more viable in the short to medium term.
The main markets for the new Equus will be the US and South Korea, however a release date has not yet been announced. The vehicle itself, a premium sedan, is expected to be sold in the US for between $61,500 and $68,750.
While Hyundai is pushing ahead with plans to begin building semi-autonomous cars, other automotive manufacturers are following a similar path.
US electric vehicle manufacturer Tesla has planned a feature called ‘Autopilot’ which allows a user to leave control of a car up to a computer during certain kinds of driving. Their new Model S70D, which opened for orders yesterday, will be the first from the company to include this functionality.
Other companies such as BMW are following similar plans, as a natural extension of advanced cruise control and automatic parking features.
Semi-autonomous vehicles are an attractive proposition for such manufacturers as they curtail legislation which bans fully autonomous vehicles from even being tested in many jurisdictions.
This being said, insurance based legal issues still remain.
“If someone was driving the Hyundai car on self-driving mode and got into an accident on the road, it would be illegal and probably not insured,” said Sohn Joo-chan, a director at the Electronics and Telecommunications Research Institute in Daejeon according to reports by IDG News Service.