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A white Hyundai IONIQ 5-based robotaxi driving along a busy road in LA.
Future mobility services

Inspired by Humans: Introducing the IONIQ 5-based Robotaxi

5 minute read

Self-driving cars used to be the kind of thing we only saw in sci-fi movies but not anymore. Now, we can look forward to riding in self-driving IONIQ 5-based robotaxis in cities around the U.S. soon, starting in Las Vegas in 2023. And, while the advanced technology is bound to impress, it is the robotaxi’s humanistic qualities that will leave a lasting impression. After all, innovation starts from very human things. Read on to find out more about our robotaxis and the human characteristics that inspired the design.

Putting people at the heart of the fully autonomous driving experience

Think of our journey toward fully autonomous robotaxis as a multi-generational family story. Our engineers have taken inspiration from the behaviors of careful, considerate drivers like their parents and the need to protect the next generation of vehicle users, their children.

Imagine an engineer working in our autonomous lab on the IONIQ 5-based robotaxi. She is inspired by childhood memories of her father always driving carefully and considerately. She, in turn, has applied these insights about her father’s driving behaviors to the robotaxi’s autonomous driving technologies. She will feel proud to take her elderly father for a ride in the robotaxi to show him how carefully it drives, just like he does. “Won’t dad be amazed to see how the robotaxi safely and effortlessly navigates through complex driving situations?” she thinks to herself. And all this, using autonomous technologies! He’s sure to approve.

Now, imagine the engineer’s daughter — a teenager who is deeply interested in robotics — taking a ride in the robotaxi with friends after school. They’re surprised and delighted to see that the car can drive itself. When one of them unbuckles their seatbelt, the robotaxi is quick to alert him to buckle up again, much as a parent would. Not only is the robotaxi cognizant of what’s happening inside the vehicle, but it is also even more aware of what’s happening on the outside. When the rooftop sensor detects debris, it cleans itself to ensure that it can continue to operate fully. And, when the vehicle detects construction ahead, it automatically finds a new route. Ultimately, the teens arrive safely, with mom and daughter bonding over the experience.

Through this campaign, we hope people will feel more familiar and connected with our robotaxi, as not just a product of technological advancement but as something that adopts the best human driver behaviors, and can be relied on in our everyday lives — not just a novelty from sci-fi movies. WON SANG CHO – HEAD OF THE MARKETING SUB-DIVISION, HYUNDAI MOTOR COMPANY

Bringing the best human driver behaviors to self-driving technology

When Hyundai Motor Group and Aptiv formed Motional in 2020 to develop an SAE Level 4 autonomous vehicle that can operate safely without a driver, they always intended to incorporate the human element as much as possible. Headquartered in Boston, Motional has worked closely with Hyundai, taking special care to include the best human driver behaviors and apply them to the robotaxi.

A screen on the back of the front seat in the back of a Hyundai IONIQ 5-based robotaxi that says ‘Please fasten your seatbelt, Seatbelt unbuckled’.
Hyundai’s IONIQ 5-based Robotaxi driving along a busy road in LA with a red and white ambulance next to it.

Think of the way good drivers look out for the safety of more vulnerable road users, such as pedestrians and cyclists. Also, consider the way conscientious drivers make way for ambulances and other emergency vehicles. Or, how careful drivers yield to oncoming traffic before completing a left turn and remind passengers to buckle their seatbelts for added protection. These considerations are integrated into the IONIQ 5-based robotaxi’s human-centric operation.

Autonomous technology will greatly improve the safety of our roads by eliminating accidents, which will save millions of lives. We believe autonomous driving vehicles will also provide a more accessible, affordable, and reliable form of transportation for everyone. With these robotaxis, we will offer improved mobility options to a wide range of users around the world.

Hyundai Motor has evolved its IONIQ 5, a battery electric vehicle built on its EV-dedicated platform, into a platform for fully autonomous vehicles. WOONGJUN JANG – HEAD OF THE AUTONOMOUS DRIVING CENTER, HYUNDAI MOTOR COMPANY

The IONIQ 5 — the perfect platform for the robotaxi experience

Not only is the IONIQ 5 instantly recognizable, it has also scooped up numerous awards since its launch in 2021, including several prestigious awards, such as the 2022 World Car of the Year. The spacious flexibility of its interior has not only won over judging panels, reviewers, and customers alike, but it is also the perfect platform for a robotaxi service as it provides plenty of legroom and headroom for rear passengers.

Based on Hyundai’s Electric Global Modular Platform (E-GMP), the IONIQ 5-based robotaxi’s interior provides passengers with a spacious, comfortable place to work, relax or socialize during rides. The interior will also feature a passenger-focused human-machine interface to allow riders to intuitively interact with the vehicle while in transit. For example, users will be able to direct the robotaxi to make an extra stop. The resulting rider experience will set a new standard for autonomous vehicle ride-hailing.

The spacious interior inside a Hyundai’s IONIQ 5-based robotaxi. There are 2 rear seats and one front seat with purple seatbelts facing a steering wheel and dashboard.

Autonomy and Electrification – the perfect combination

Through its mix of autonomy and electrification, the IONIQ 5-based robotaxi embodies the human-centric attributes of safety and sustainability. This was a core consideration for our team when thinking about the role of autonomous vehicles and how they can help to make our cities accident and pollution-free.

First unveiled at IAA Mobility in 2021, the IONIQ 5-based robotaxi elegantly integrates over 30 sensors, including cameras, radar and LiDAR to provide robust 360-degree perception, high-resolution images and ultra-long range object detection for safe autonomous operation in diverse driving environments. By making the self-driving technology visible in the exterior design, we’re letting passengers know right away that they’re getting into an autonomous driving vehicle, and we think this will make the experience more inviting. It’s telling the world – “I’m well-equipped to take you where you want to go, safely.”

Real-world tests for the protection of passengers and other road users

For many consumers, the IONIQ 5-based robotaxi will be the first time they experience fully autonomous driving technology, and they may be a little uncertain about it. To provide peace of mind, we’ve made the experience as smooth, comfortable, and predictable as it would be with a human driver.

To prepare for mass commercialization, we’ve undertaken a rigorous testing process. All of our vehicles are put to the test in thousands of challenging and unpredictable scenarios on both closed courses and public roads. The system also benefits from being exposed to a wide variety of driving environments, weather conditions, and behaviors across different locations.

A side view of a black and white Hyundai’s IONIQ 5-based robotaxi driving past a hotel in Las Vegas.
A black and while Hyundai IONIQ 5-based robotaxi driving along a road in Singapore.

For example, we’ve tested the IONIQ 5-based robotaxi on public roads in urban areas like Las Vegas, Los Angeles and Singapore. And, in Las Vegas, we’ve conducted over 100,000 public rides with overwhelming customer satisfaction and zero at-fault incidents. As the city is full of different kinds of vehicles and people from all over the world, we have been able to test our vehicles in a variety of unique scenarios and collected a huge amount of data. Las Vegas hotel and casino owners have also allowed IONIQ 5-based robotaxis to practice passenger pick-ups and drop-offs, which is a challenging, but critical, skill for robotaxis.

Robotaxis will create a whole new mobility paradigm to help curb congestion, prevent accidents and reduce pollution. KARL IAGNEMMA – PRESIDENT AND CEO, MOTIONAL

Realizing more freedom of mobility for less congestion and climate change

What everyone needs to understand about the robotaxi is that we haven’t created the technology for technology’s sake. We’ve brought our robotaxi to life in order to address real-world issues that affect us all — namely congestion, traffic accidents, and pollution — and ultimately realize a greater freedom of mobility for more people.

Robotaxis will serve a range of users worldwide, such as busy families who require occasional extra transportation; professionals who need to make the most of their commute time, and the elderly and disabled who lack accessible transportation options. Soon, robotaxis will be taking our children to play dates, bringing us home from work and helping us run errands. Robotaxis will create a whole new mobility paradigm to help curb congestion, prevent accidents and reduce pollution.

A white Hyundai IONIQ 5-based robotaxi driving along a road lined with palm trees in LA.

Considering the rise of mega cities around the world, electric robotaxis will help conserve energy and reduce traffic congestion before it gets worse. The more robotaxis are on the road, the more they can absorb the mobility demand in cities, resulting in less greenhouse gas emissions being released. Over time, the IONIQ 5-based robotaxi will also contribute to Hyundai’s goal to become carbon-neutral as it spreads to cities and platforms worldwide, starting in 2023.

Stay tuned for more stories about the IONIQ 5-based robotaxi and follow us on Instagram(@hyundai) to find out more about our cars and mobility products for the next generation.


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