It's hard to truly state when the self-driving car race kicked off, but in the past couple of years, it's heated up significantly. Yet Korea's Hyundai Motor Group, which oversees both the Hyundai and Kia brands, has largely stuck to the sidelines.
On Monday, that changed. Hyundai and autonomous technology company Aptiv announced they will create a new joint-venture operation to oversee the development of a self-driving car platform. Each company will own 50% of the new joint venture company for a total valuation of $4 billion. Hyundai, Kia and Hyundai Mobis will contribute $1.6 billion combined in actual investment. The other portion of the funds will come from access to engineering, research and development and intellectual property.
For Aptiv's part, it will provide 700 dedicated employees to oversee work on an autonomous car platform. The company also brings its own self-driving technology and intellectual property to the table.
"Hyundai Motor Group's cutting-edge engineering and R&D capabilities make them our partner of choice to advance the development of a production-ready autonomous platform," Aptiv CEO Kevin Clark said.
Aptiv knows a thing or two about autonomous technology. It's already an accredited automotive supplier and operates a fleet ofwith Lyft.
The overarching goal is to develop and perfect Level 4 and Level 5 self-driving systems. At Level 4, the car can handle all tasks without needing to hand controls back to a human driver. Level 5 is completely autonomous and the highest rank on the.
Tests for various autonomous systems will start in 2020 with a desire to have a self-driving vehicle platform ready for commercialization by 2022. The platform will be offered to "robotaxi" providers, vehicle fleet managers and even other automakers, according to the announcement.
The joint venture will be headquartered in Boston, though input will come from various technology centers across the US and Asia.