Hyundai Motor invests in U.S. startup to beef up autonomous vehicle technology

Park Sae-jin Reporter Posted : 2018-05-16 12:39 Updated : 2018-05-16 12:39
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[Courtesy of Hyundai]

SEOUL --  Hyundai Motor is investing in Metawave, a California-based manufacturer of radar for autonomous vehicles, to build intelligent radars for its drive to market self-driving cars by 2021.

The company said in a statement on Wednesday that its venturing and innovation wing, CRADLE, would invest in Metawave to build smart radars, which work as eyes of autonomous vehicles. Hyundai did not disclose details such as money involved.

"A new radar system that can increase resolution and accuracy with an AI engine will be a disruptive technology," John Suh, vice president of Hyundai CRADLE, was quoted as saying.

Radars, lidars and cameras are considered vital technologies for autonomous driving. While lidars collect accurate images from its surrounding using laser beams, they can only see objects within the range of 150 meters (492 feet). Cameras provide high-definition images but they cannot see beyond 50 meters. The detecting ability of both sensors is reduced greatly in bad weather conditions such as rain and fog.

While other sensors are specialized in close-range detection, radars are capable of detecting objects moving at high speed.

Ordinary radars for autonomous vehicles use multiple antennas to cover wide angles at long ranges and lacks in resolution, making them harder to differentiate objects. Metawave's product, named Warlord, uses a single-antenna radar to shoot beams in many directions. AI is used in Warlord's radar system to collect data and merge it with other data collected from lidars and cameras to come up with a clear 3D image.

In January this year, Hyundai forged a strategic partnership with Aurora, an autonomous vehicle technology company, to commercialize self-driving cars by 2021. As part of its pilot program for the commercialization, Hyundai completed the 190-kilometer test run of NEXO, a hydrogen fuel cell electric vehicle, from Seoul to the venue of this year's Winter Olympics in the eastern ski resort of Pyeongchang in February.