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Asia300

Hyundai teaming up with autonomous driving venture Aurora

Startup led by Google alumnus seen helping speed development

A Hyundai autonomous vehicle at an international motor show in Geneva last March.   © Reuters

SEOUL/FRANKFURT -- Hyundai Motor aims to accelerate development efforts on highly automated vehicles under a new partnership with Silicon Valley startup Aurora.

Custom-developed Hyundais will be test-driven in "smart cities" equipped with advanced information technology infrastructure, toward the goal of rolling out so-called level 4 autonomous vehicles by 2021. One step below the fully automated level 5 vehicles in the hierarchy of auto engineers' association SAE International, level 4 vehicles can operate without human input or oversight under select conditions.

Aurora was co-founded by CEO Chris Urmson, who led autonomous driving technology development at Google for years. Another co-founder is Sterling Anderson, who oversaw autonomous driving at Tesla.

Hyundai and Aurora will marry their respective expertise to apply autonomous technology to Hyundai fuel cell vehicles.

Details of the partnership will be announced at the CES consumer electronics show next week in the American city of Las Vegas.

Volkswagen also announced a tie-up with Aurora, following up on its unveiling last year of the Sedric fully autonomous concept car. Aiming for public road tests by 2021, the company will accelerate development through the partnership.

Chief Digital Officer Johann Jungwirth has put forth a vision of a world where everyone -- including children, seniors, the sick and the visually impaired -- can enjoy mobility "at the push of a button."

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