Hyundai and Aptiv form Motional self-driving tech joint venture

Hyundai and automotive supplier Aptiv (formerly Delphi) on Tuesday announced a new self-driving technology joint venture by the name of Motional.

The 50:50 joint venture is valued at $4 billion and was first announced last fall. It’s headed by Karl Iagnemma, previously head of self-driving technology development at Aptiv.

Aptiv contributed its intellectual property and team of 700 researchers while Hyundai (and Kia) contributed $1.6 billion in cash and $400 million worth of engineering services, R&D resources, and access to intellectual property.

Aptiv has been developing self-driving technology for a number of years through its own research but also acquisitions, namely the acquisition of Boston-based nuTonomy in 2017. It started commercial trials of self-driving taxis in 2018 with ride-hailing company Lyft in parts of Las Vegas and has also been testing prototypes in Boston, Pittsburgh and Singapore. Hyundai has also been developing self-driving technology for a number of years.

The goal of Motional is to develop a reliable and robust self-driving system with Level 4 capability on the SAE scale, and then license this system to third parties including other automakers. A Level 4 self-driving system can operate a car on its own within set conditions, the main one typically being a geofenced area with sufficient map data. Level 5, the ultimate goal, is a self-driving system with the same capability as a human driver.

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Hyundai and Aptiv in their Tuesday announcement said Motional’s first self-driving car prototypes will start testing on public roads later in 2020 and that the technology will be available for fleet operators as early as 2022. The companies mentioned fleets operating self-driving taxis, or robotaxis, as a potential customer.

Rivals in this space include Ford and Volkswagen Group’s Argo AI, General Motors and Honda’s Cruise, and Alphabet Inc.’s Waymo, just to name a few.

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