Kia to invest $2 billion for plans to launch partially autonomous driving technologies by 2020

Article by Andrew Christian, on November 19, 2015

South Korean carmaker Kia has unveiled big plans by the end of the decade and by 2030. In fact, Kia is planning to initially invest US$2 billion by 2018 as it endeavors to launch a range of partially autonomous driving (Advanced Driver Assistance System or ADAS) technologies for its vehicles by 2020. And by 2030, the South Korean carmaker eyes to introduce its first fully autonomous car.

The investment should enable Kia to get more engineers to develop the first of the ADAS technologies and bring about the launch of the carmaker’s next-generation smart vehicles in the next few years. KIA is currently collaborating with suppliers and affiliated companies to develop ADAS technologies across three categories -- Recognition, Judgment and Control – that will give its vehicles the ability to drive autonomously.

First off, ADAS technologies should have a Recognition role, which means Kia should pursue development of sensors that will be able to recognize other vehicles, the road ahead and various driving conditions. Likewise, these technologies should have a Judgment mechanism, which should lead to the creation of advanced computing systems that will enable Kia vehicle to judge or make decisions according to what have been recognized by sensors.

Lastly, ADAS technologies should have a Control role, which should push the South Korean carmaker to develop active electronic and mechanical systems that would allow its vehicle to implement the decisions made by the technology. It is a given that several of the carmaker’s new ADAS technologies need simultaneous input from more than one sensor.

Thus, Kia’s initial investment will go to its r&d work to allow it to gain localized knowledge and set up a production-base for the high precision sensors. When these ADAS technologies are ready to be produced, Kia is eyeing to introduce a number of partially autonomous driving systems by the end of the decade or in 2020.

These new technologies, which are still under development, include Highway Driving Assist (HDA), which is a combination of the Lane Guidance System (LGS) and Advanced Smart Cruise Control (ASCC). Using information from the navigation system, HDA should allow a vehicle to automatically maintain a safe distance from vehicles in front while staying on its lane and adhering to local speed limits.

HDA should also allow vehicle to safely overtake other vehicles on the motorway. Another ADAS technology currently being developed by Kia is the Traffic Jam Assist (TJA), which should help a Kia model manage heavy road congestion by tracking the vehicle in front during moderate-to-highly jammed traffic conditions.

Using a range of sensors, TJA helps a vehicle maintains a safe distance from the one in front while also keeping it within its lane. New ADAS technology should also help make parking a breeze. Kia currently offers Smart Parking Assist System (SPAS), which allows a vehicle to park themselves in parallel or perpendicular spaces using minimal input from the driver.

This system will be enhanced by the Remote Advanced Parking Assist System (RAPAS), which through the push of a smart key button from a certain distance, makes Kia vehicles park themselves. Of course, Kia will allow drivers to override the new ADAS technologies if they want to have more control of their vehicles.

Nonetheless, Kia is also already offering an array of technologies – all designed to help make driving safer and easier by identifying hazards as early as possible and having the driver or the car react appropriately -- on its latest production models like the Sorento, Optima and Sportage.

These include include Lane Departure Warning System (LDWS), Lane Keeping Assist System (LKAS), Blind Spot Detection (BSD), Auto Emergency Braking (AEB) and Advanced Smart Cruise Control (ASCC). In the longer term, Kia targets to introduce fully autonomous vehicles by 2030.

To that effect, Kia is concentrating its r&d resources on vehicle-to-vehicle (V2V), vehicle-to-infrastructure (V2I) and vehicle-to-everything (V2X) communication.

Tae-Won Lim, Vice President at Central Advanced Research and Engineering Institute of Hyundai Motor Group, admits that fully autonomous vehicles remain way off, adding that a “great deal” of research as well as rigorous product testing will be required to realize the ‘self-driving car.’ He noted that his company is at the early stages of developing its own technologies.

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