A concept that previews the company’s first autonomous drive vehicle

The Hyundai Ioniq was unveiled to the public in early 2016, after a couple of years of speculation and spy shots of camouflaged test cars. Developed to compete against the popular Toyota Prius, the Ioniq sports a modern design that combines the company’s latest styling language with a few unique design features of its own. Available in both hybrid and plug-in hybrid versions at launch, the Ioniq also got an all-electric variant in 2017. At the 2016 Los Angeles Auto Show, Hyundai confirmed that the EV will also get an autonomous system and showcased a concept car featuring the new technology. Essentially identical to the hybrid inside and out, the Autonomous Ioniq is one of the few self-driving cars in development to have a hidden LiDAR system in its front bumper instead of on the roof and Hyundai says that its goal is to keep the self-driving systems as simple as possible. This will be accomplished by using the Ioniq’s Smart Cruise Control radar, along with its Lane Keep Assist cameras and integrating them with LiDAR technology.

Hyundai also announced that it’s developing its own autonomous vehicle operating system, which will result in a low-cost platform that can be installed in future Hyundai models that should be more affordable. A display-only model in L.A., the Autonomous Ioniq was further showcased at the Consumer Electronics Show (CES) in January 2017, where two cars were "driven" on the streets of Las Vegas. There’s no specific timetable as to when the production car will arrive, but Hyundai is already testing three autonomous Ioniqs and two autonomous Tucson Fuel Cell SUVs at its research and development center in Namyang, South Korea. Early 2018 sounds like a reasonable launch date.

Continue reading to learn more about the Hyundai Autonomous IONIQ concept.

Exterior

The only feature that sets it apart is the big plastic element that replaces the vertical-slat grille.

Styling-wise, the Autonomous Ioniq is almost identical to its conventional production siblings. Up front, the only feature that sets it apart is the big plastic element that replaces the vertical-slat grille. Likely developed to hide the LiDAR system mounted to the front of the car, it’s also a feature typical to electric vehicles that don’t need the cooling provided by a standard radiator. So it’s actually an easy way to tell that this specific Ioniq uses a battery and electric motors to move about. The "Hyundai" logo also appears to be larger than on the regular Ioniq and it is protected by transparent plastic. The side panels and rear fascia are identical to the regular production car with one small exception. The blue trim in the lower bumper was replaced by one that matches the color of the bumper insert. The car also rides on different wheels, but they’re far from special, being already available on the standard Ioniq.

Interior

2016 Hyundai Autonomous Ioniq Concept High Resolution Interior
- image 695896

A quick glimpse inside the car is enough to notice that the cabin is also identical to the standard Ioniq, but there a few extra features worth mentioning. First, a big screen pops out atop the dash, just above the regular infotainment display in the center stack. Hyundai didn’t provide information about the new device, but the photos suggests that it displays data from the autonomous system, including a simulation of the ahead, navigation, speed, speed limits, and changes, and the position of the steering wheel.

A big screen pops out atop the dash, just above the regular infotainment display.

There’s also a new button in the center stack that reads "Emergency Stop." The center console is also different, with the surface that houses the gear shifter and control sitting higher and being wider. This modification makes a lot of sense, as the car’s autonomous drive requires some new technology in there. New devices are attached to the roof, just behind the windshield. These likely contain the cameras and systems that enable the Ioniq to "see" the traffic ahead. Screens that display the same images as the one atop the dashboard are also mounted in the front-seat backrests, giving rear-seat passengers access to the car’s autonomous system.

Drivetrain

In order to make the Ioniq autonomous, Hyundai added many features and new technology to the drivetrain. First up, there’s a LiDAR system that allows the Autonomous IONIQ to detect the absolute position of surrounding vehicles and objects. Unlike other autonomous concepts, the technology is hidden in the front bumper instead of the roof, giving the car a more conventional appearance. Another new feature is the three-camera array which detects pedestrian proximity, lane markings, and traffic signals. A GPS antenna helps determine the precise location of each vehicle around the Ioniq, while high definition mapping data from Hyundai MnSoft delivers location accuracy, road grade/curvature, lane width, and indication data. Lane changes are executed safely thanks to a new Blind Spot Detection radar.

2016 Hyundai Autonomous Ioniq Concept High Resolution Exterior
- image 695903
Unlike other autonomous concepts, the LiDAR technology is hidden in the front bumper instead of the roof.

The car also comes with many technologies already available on the standard Ioniq. The package includes Automatic Emergency Braking with Pedestrian Detection, Smart Cruise Control, Lane Departure Warning, and Rear Cross-Traffic Assist. The vehicle also incorporates all autonomous controls into existing systems to ensure that drivers can have a seamless transition between active and self-driving modes.

All told, Hyundai claims that the autonomous Ioniq will be able to tackle "high levels of pedestrian traffic, stop lights, stop signs, school zones, road construction and roadblocks, speed bumps, dogs without a leash, children at play, shopping centers, and intersections without traffic signals."

The Korean company had nothing to say about the drivetrain, but it’s safe to assume that the autonomous Ioniq will use an electric motor and a battery, just like the all-electric version of the hatchback. The latter gets its juice from a single electric motor that generates 118 horsepower and 217 pound-feet of torque. Power is sent to the front wheels through a single-speed reducer transmission that enables the car to hit a top speed of 102 mph. The 28-kWh lithium-ion polymer battery delivers an estimated range of 155 miles, while charging the battery to 80 percent takes only 24 minutes using a 100-kW fast charger.

Conclusion

2016 Hyundai Autonomous Ioniq Concept High Resolution Exterior
- image 695890

Although Hyundai did release a significant amount of details on the technology behind this car, it’s still early to draw a conclusion as to how it will behave on the road and compare against the competition. That’s because the car is still under development, plus the fact that there aren’t too many semi-autonomous electric vehicles to compare it to. The Tesla Model S would be a good example here, but the American brand is still struggling to update the system in order to fix various flaws, which unfortunately led to a fatal crash earlier in 2016. What’s really important here is that Hyundai is taking autonomous technology very seriously and it has already gathered valuable know-how recently. For a company that didn’t matter much on the hybrid and EV market a few years ago, this is pretty big! Also, I like the fact that the autonomous Ioniq is basically identical to the standard model. This will help customers embrace the new technology much easier.

  • Leave it
    • * Not much is known about the production model
    • * The Tesla Model S is hard to beat

Press Release

Hyundai Motor Company announced the introduction of the Autonomous IONIQ concept during its press conference at Automobility LA (Los Angeles Auto Show). With a sleek design resembling the rest of the IONIQ lineup, the vehicle is one of the few self-driving cars in development to have a hidden LiDAR system in its front bumper instead of on the roof, enabling it to look like any other car on the road and not a high school science project.

2016 Hyundai Autonomous Ioniq Concept High Resolution Exterior
- image 695885

The goal of the autonomous IONIQ concept was to keep the self-driving systems as simple as possible. This was accomplished by using the production car’s Smart Cruise Control’s forward-facing radar, Lane Keep Assist cameras and integrated them with LiDAR technology. Hyundai Motor is also developing its own autonomous vehicle operating system, with the goal of using a lot less computing power. This will result in a low-cost platform, which can be installed in future Hyundai models the average consumer can afford.

The car’s hidden LiDAR system also allows the Autonomous IONIQ to detect the absolute position of surrounding vehicles and objects. In addition, the Autonomous IONIQ features:

Forward Facing Radar which detects the relative location and speed of objects in the vehicle’s forward path to aid in route planning
A three camera array which detects pedestrian proximity, lane markings and traffic signals
A GPS antenna to determine the precise location of each vehicle
High definition mapping data from Hyundai MnSoft which delivers location accuracy, road grade/curvature, lane width and indication data
A Blind Spot Detection radar to ensure even simple lane changes are executed safely

These features build upon the capabilities of the production IONIQ, which offers Automatic Emergency Braking with Pedestrian Detection, Smart Cruise Control, Lane Departure Warning and Rear Cross-Traffic Assist. The vehicle also incorporates all autonomous controls into existing systems to ensure that drivers can have a seamless transition between active and self-driving modes.

2016 Hyundai Autonomous Ioniq Concept High Resolution Exterior
- image 695888

Earlier this year, Hyundai Motor earned a license to test its autonomous cars in urban environments. To showcase the cars in action, Hyundai Motor will debut two Autonomous IONIQs at the Consumer Electronics Show (CES) in January where the cars will be found driving up and down the neon-and sunlit boulevards of Las Vegas. In addition to offering media rides, these IONIQs will be prepared to tackle:

High levels of pedestrian traffic
Stop lights, stop signs and school zones
Road construction and roadblocks
Speed bumps
Dogs without a leash
Children at play
Shopping centers
Intersections without traffic signals

2016 Hyundai Autonomous Ioniq Concept High Resolution Interior
- image 695892

Hyundai Motor is currently testing three autonomous IONIQs and two Autonomous Tucson Fuel Cell vehicles at Hyundai Research and Development Center in Namyang, South Korea. Navigating Namyang for a self-driving car is a challenge because of the more than 11,000 engineers and designers on site every day.

View the full press release Hide press release
Press release
What do you think?
Show Comments
Car Finder: