A trio of fuel cell-powered, electric cars has completed an epic 200km trek in South Korea, with no one at the wheel.

It’s the first time in the world that level 4 autonomous driving has been achieved with fuel cell electric vehicles.

It’s also the first time autonomous vehicles have operated on public highways at 110km/h — the maximum speed allowed on Korean highways.

The vehicle chosen for this test was NEXO, Hyundai’s next generation fuel cell electric vehicle, which has a target range of 800km on a single charge of hydrogen and takes only five minutes to refuel.

NEXO boasts world-class efficiency of 60 per cent, compared with a petrol engine and a load space of 839 litres.

All vehicles were equipped with level 4 self-driving technology, as defined by the SAE international standards and equipped witfuelh 5G network technology.

The demonstration took place in Seoul on February 2.

Pressing the ‘cruise’ and ‘set’ buttons to start sparked the cars to switch immediately to self-driving mode and begin the 200km journey from Seoul to Pyeongchang.

Entering the highway, the vehicles moved in response to the natural flow of traffic, executed lane changes, overtaking manoeuvres and navigated toll gates using the wireless expressway payment system.

Building on Hyundai’s successful demonstration of autonomous vehicles during the Consumer Electronics Show (CES) in Las Vegas last year, the cars feature a number of advanced technologies that enable them to recognise surrounding vehicles more accurately and make better judgements at junctions and navigate through toll gates by accurately calculating the toll gate’s width and position.

The vehicles are also able to pinpoint their position on a map by using external sensors fitted for situations when the GPS signal was interrupted, such as going through underground tunnels.

Hyundai is preparing for the commercialisation of the SAE standard Level 4 compliant autonomous-driving system in smart cities by 2021, with full commercialisation planned for 2030.

NEXO Autonomous Fuel Cell Electric Vehicle Showcase 1

 

Headshot Riley 96x96 - Future proof: 200km handsfree with fuel cell

Riley

Chris Riley has been a journalist for almost 40 years. He has spent half of his career as a writer, editor and production editor in newspapers, the rest of the time driving and writing about cars both in print and online. His love affair with cars began as a teenager with the purchase of an old VW Beetle, followed by another Beetle and a string of other cars on which he has wasted too much time and money. A self-confessed geek, he’s not afraid to ask the hard questions - at the risk of sounding silly.
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