The South Korea’s Ministry of Land, Infrastructure and Transport has granted an autonomous driving permit to a full-size truck. The 40-ton Xcient Hyundai truck drove stacked up with actual products to be exported in the trailer.
It undertook the journey on a 29-kilometer route from Bugok Interchange to Seochang Junction on the Yeongdong Expressway and an 11-kilometer route from Seochang Junction to Neunghae Interchange on the Second Gyeongin Expressway. Logistics affiliate Hyundai Glovis ran the test under for this delivery scenario in collaboration with Hyundai Motor’s.
The truck was equipped with SAE Level 3 autonomy, implying that while it was fully capable of accelerating, braking and steering its own way down the highway, Level 3 still requires human supervision to take over in case the system cannot handle a situation, so, Hyundai had a human in the driver’s seat ready. The truck equipped with 10 sensors, including three cameras in the front, sides and rear along with three Lidar (laser radar) systems in the front and on both sides, was able to drive inside a lane, change lanes, pass through two tunnels and acknowledge the movements of cars in front of it too.
“This successful demonstration proves that innovative autonomous driving technology can be used to transform the trade logistics industry,” said Maik Ziegler, Hyundai’s director of commercial-vehicle R&D, in a statement. “At this stage, a human driver is still used to control the vehicle manually in certain situations, but I think we will achieve level 4 of automation soon, as we are constantly upgrading our technological capability.”
“With the latest success, we proved that self-driving technology could bring innovation to the logistics industry,” another official from Hyundai Motor was quoted saying. “In the current stage, a driver intervenes in junctions and tollgates for the sake of other vehicles’ safety, but with continuous improvement of technology, we expect we can reach Level 4 earlier than expected as well,” the official elaborated further.
The latest development is expected to help reduce fatal road accidents. According to the National Police Agency, the rate of fatal accidents among all car accidents is 1.9 percent, but among those involving large trucks, the rate of fatal accidents is 3.7 percent.
Hyundai is now planning to attempt platooning of trucks which will involve co-ordination of multiple trucks driving close to one another in a line, which could vastly improve efficiency. It hopes to have that system put together by the year 2020.