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Hyundai hires former GM researcher to head autonomy center

If you can't hire from within, there's no shame in a bit of the ol' corporate poaching.

Hyundai autonomous Ioniq prototype
Antuan Goodwin/Roadshow

Hyundai might be a bit behind the competition when it comes to autonomy research, but it's trying to catch up with a new hire.

Hyundai hired Lee Jin-woo, a former General Motors researcher, to manage its Intelligent Safety Technology Center, Reuters reports. Prior to his new job at Hyundai, Lee oversaw autonomous driving tech development for more than a decade. The job at Hyundai starts today, February 13.

Hyundai already has autonomous Ioniq prototypes, but that's just the beginning.

Antuan Goodwin/Roadshow

The Intelligent Safety Technology Center is actually a combined version of two separate research centers, which were focused on safety tech and autonomous driving individually. These combined efforts will be shared with both Hyundai and its sister company Kia.

"The new center will not only enhance existing Advanced Drive Assistance System technologies but also conduct research into artificial intelligence-related self-driving car technologies with the aim of commercializing those technologies," Hyundai said in a statement.

Autonomy and artificial intelligence are hot commodities in the automotive industry right now. Automakers have pushed out various systems that remove some, but not all driver input, and it's believed that true (SAE Level 5) autonomy should arrive in a nascent form before the end of the decade.

Last week, Ford announced a $1 billion investment in machine-learning startup Argo AI. It will work on the software side of self-driving cars. A number of automakers and suppliers are hard at work on autonomous hardware, including Bosch, Tesla and Delphi.