The 2020 Hyundai Sonata isn't even out yet, but already, one company has created a self-driving development prototype out of one. It's nice to know people -- or, in this case, it's nice to know the parts and service arm of the greater Hyundai empire.
Russian internet giant Yandex and Hyundai Mobis on Thursday debuted their jointly developed 2020 Hyundai Sonata self-driving development prototype. Based on a regular ol' next-generation Sonata, the vehicle has been fitted with the hardware and software necessary to enable autonomy and continue development on the technology. The two companies signed a memorandum of understanding to create Level 4 and Level 5 autonomous vehicles, and this is the first step towards that end goal.
According to Yandex's Medium post, the company received its first 2020 Sonata at the end of May, just two months after inking the partnership with Hyundai Mobis. Engineers from both companies worked to adapt Yandex's tech to the Sonata, and the result looks surprisingly sleek. The majority of the car's hardware looks contained to the pod up top, which sports some recognizable lidar emitters. Cables run to the trunk, where there's more hardware responsible for crunching all the data its sensors receive.
So far, testing has been limited to Yandex's testing grounds, but according to the company, it's been operating completely autonomously in that closed environment, coming up against things like simulated weather and traffic. Yandex said its prototype will start operating on public roads in Moscow "shortly."
This is just the beginning for their partnership. Eventually, Yandex wants to have a fleet of 100 development vehicles, a feat it hopes to achieve by the end of 2019. Future prototypes won't just be based on the Sonata, either. To prove its flexibility, Yandex wants to add its hardware and software to a multitude of Hyundai and Kia vehicles, although it declined to say which ones.