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Hyundai Will Launch Robotaxi Service in Seoul

by Charles Choi
Hyundai will pilot a robotaxi service in Seoul. Courtesy: Hyundai.

Hyundai will pilot a robotaxi service in Seoul, the first ride-hailing service with autonomous vehicles in the bustling Gangnam district, one of the city’s most congested areas, the company announced June 9.

The new RoboRide service will use two Hyundai Ioniq 5 battery-electric vehicles with in-house developed Society of Automotive Engineers (SAE) Level 4 autonomy—that is, able to act without any human intervention in the vast majority of situations. 

“At Hyundai Motor Group, we are developing level 4 autonomous driving technology based on the internally developed Advanced Driver Assistance System (ADAS), whose functionality and safety are verified through mass production and successful commercial launch,” Woongjun Jang, senior vice president and head of the autonomous driving center of Hyundai Motor Group, said in a statement. “We expect this RoboRide pilot service will be an important inflection point that will enable us to internalize autonomous driving technology.”

The project will operate from 10 a.m. to 4 p.m. from Monday to Friday, to minimize any potential inconveniences on the road during rush hour. It will host up to three passengers each ride, with a safety driver in each vehicle to respond to any emergencies. 

The carmaker will collaborate with Jin Mobility, a Korean startup that will operate RoboRide’s two vehicles using its artificial intelligence (AI)-powered car-hailing mobility platform ‘i.M.’ 

“We have been strengthening our capabilities by working on research and development with relevant institutions,” Lee Seong-wook, CEO of Jin Mobility, said in a statement. “Starting with the RoboRide pilot service in collaboration with Hyundai Motor Group, we look forward to leading the future mobility scene. We will put our utmost effort into creating synergies through this pilot service.”

In addition, Hyundai will provide an in-house developed remote vehicle assist system to ensure safety. The system will monitor each vehicle’s automated driving system and route, and provide remote assist functions such as changing the lane under circumstances where autonomous driving is not feasible. 

For the new project, Hyundai has secured a temporary autonomous driving operation permit from Korea’s Ministry of Land, Infrastructure and Transport. In addition, to prepare for Gangnam’s complicated driving environment, Hyundai has worked with the Seoul Metropolitan Government to establish a system that can connect traffic signals with autonomous vehicles. The carmaker has also gathered copious driving data in the Gangnam area by testing autonomous vehicles there since 2019.

To launch RoboRide, Won Hee-ryong, Korea’s minister of land, infrastructure and transport, and Oh Se-hoon, Seoul’s mayor, became its first customers. Hyundai plans to operate an initial demonstration service for internally selected personnel, and then expand the pilot service to general customers in the future.

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