Prototypes of autonomous vehicles date back to the 1930s, but carmakers have only recently begun introducing semiautonomous features in their models. Examples include lane centering and adaptive cruise control, and it seemed it would be a long time until we saw fully self-driving vehicles on the road. However, the technology appears to have advanced enough recently to make AVs a reality. That’s evident in a recent Hyundai announcement revealing that Ioniq 5 robotaxis will hit U.S. streets in 2023.
Here’s a look at the all-electric Hyundai Ioniq 5 and the robotaxis.
Overview of the 2022 Hyundai Ioniq 5
The all-new 2022 Hyundai Ioniq 5 has already garnered a few accolades at the 2022 World Car Awards. They include World Car of the Year, World Car Design of the Year, and World Electric Vehicle of the Year.
This futuristic-looking crossover SUV comes with all-wheel drive or rear-wheel drive. The drivetrain affects range, power output, and acceleration. The RWD version features a single motor producing 225 hp and 258 lb-ft torque, with a range of 303 miles.
The two motors in the Ioniq 5 AWD combine for 320 hp and 446 lb-ft torque, but that extra power sacrifices 47 miles of range. Acceleration also varies, with the single-motor model taking 7.4 seconds to reach 60 mph. The AWD version can achieve the same speed in 4.5 seconds, Car and Driver reports.
The 2022 Hyundai Ioniq 5 starting price is $44,000, although Hyundai plans to release a $39,700 version with a 168-hp motor and 220 miles of range.
Self-driving Hyundai Ioniq 5 robotaxis will hit U.S. streets in 2023
Hyundai has partnered with Motional, a company that makes driverless cars accessible, safe, and reliable, to deploy an Ioniq 5-based robotaxi. The automaker presented its plans at the 2021 IAA Mobility trade show and recently announced the robotaxis would hit U.S. streets next year.
Hyundai says the Ioniq 5 robotaxi will be a level 4 autonomous vehicle that should be able to operate safely without a driver. To this end, Motional will equip the EV with the necessary hardware and software, including cameras, radar sensors, and LiDAR.
The automaker also released campaign videos showing how the technology will retain “humanistic qualities.” They include being careful and considerate of others on the road and taking care of passengers.
Ultimately, the Hyundai-Motional partnership hopes to begin transporting the public in Las Vegas, Nevada, in 2023 before expanding to other cities in the United States and beyond.
The levels of autonomous vehicles explained
AVs are classified according to their autonomous capabilities from level 0 to level 5. As mentioned above, the Hyundai Ioniq 5 robotaxi will be a level 4 autonomous vehicle. But what does that mean? Here’s a breakdown of the levels:
Level 0 is the most basic and typically means the car has no autonomous capabilities. That was the status quo in the past, but few modern vehicles, if any, can be classified as level 0.
Level 1 is where features such as adaptive cruise control come in, and the vehicle is limited to one autonomous action at a time.
Level 2 vehicles allow drivers to let go of the steering wheel, and they should be able to turn and accelerate without human input. These features are standard in some of today’s cars, but there’s a catch. A driver must be in the cockpit observing the road and ready to take action if something goes wrong.
Currently, no level 3 autonomous vehicles are available to consumers. If there were, they would allow drivers to take their eyes off the road. However, they would still require a driver ready to take control when needed.
Level 4, like the Hyundai Ioniq 5 robotaxi, is where the car can do almost everything expected of a human driver, including adhering to speed limits and responding to traffic lights. Though these vehicles are currently in the market, they’re not available to the public.
Last, level 5 is the peak of self-driving cars and would be entirely independent of human contribution on the road. They might even do away with steering wheels or pedals because they would be redundant. However, there aren’t any level 5 autonomous vehicles in production or the rumor mill.