Taking a ride in Hyundai's Ioniq autonomous car

What happens when a law-abiding car meets the real road

It was only a couple of years ago that auto makers started appearing at CES touting self-driving car systems. Now those vehicles are taking to the roads in various trials around the world and on Wednesday in Las Vegas, I got a chance to ride in an autonomous version of Hyundai's Ioniq four-door sedan.

The car was capable of "level 4" autonomy, which means it can drive itself without human help. It recognized traffic signals and stopped when needed, was able to negotiate turns and slow down for other traffic and pedestrians.

At the heart of the car are three laser imaging sensors that provide a 180 degree view of the surroundings ahead. The data from the sensors is matched with a detailed 3D map that was generated ahead of time, and enables the car to figure out where it is on the road. It also picks up on visual cues like lane markings.

p1170430 Martyn Williams

A Hyundai engineer takes his hands off the wheel in the company's Ioniq autonomous car in Las Vegas on January 4, 2017.

This is how most autonomous cars work these days. The road needs to have been mapped in advance because the cars can't really think and figure things out from scratch.

The ride was fairly smooth although some acceleration, braking and steering was a little bit jerky — a sign of the computer control.

Perhaps the most interesting moments came when the car encountered the many minor law violations that occur on roads everyday. Hyundai has programmed it to obey the law -- it couldn't ethically do anything else -- but that meant the car stuck to a sedate and legal 25 miles per hour while most other road users cruised by at faster speeds.

At at one stage, when turning right at a junction, it encountered a pedestrian who wasn't waiting on the sidewalk but in the gutter. The car sensed him in the road and slowed to an almost halt. A human driver might have simply taken the curve a little wider.

The short drive only took about 10 minutes so it was impossible to really see the car working under a number of different conditions -- but then, the technology isn't production-ready yet.

p1170405 Martyn Williams

Hyundai's Ioniq autonomous car in Las Vegas on January 4, 2017.

Hyundai, like many other auto companies, is researching the electronics and computer processing needed to safely and efficiently let cars take over from humans during most driving.

And when control was wanted back, the driver could resume by simply grabbing the steering wheel or placing a foot on one of the pedals.

Join the newsletter!

Error: Please check your email address.
Rocket to Success - Your 10 Tips for Smarter ERP System Selection

Tags CES 2017

Keep up with the latest tech news, reviews and previews by subscribing to the Good Gear Guide newsletter.

Martyn Williams

IDG News Service
Show Comments

Cool Tech

Breitling Superocean Heritage Chronographe 44

Learn more >

SanDisk MicroSDXC™ for Nintendo® Switch™

Learn more >

Toys for Boys

Family Friendly

Panasonic 4K UHD Blu-Ray Player and Full HD Recorder with Netflix - UBT1GL-K

Learn more >

Stocking Stuffer

Razer DeathAdder Expert Ergonomic Gaming Mouse

Learn more >

Christmas Gift Guide

Click for more ›

Most Popular Reviews

Latest Articles

Resources

PCW Evaluation Team

Edwina Hargreaves

WD My Cloud Home

I would recommend this device for families and small businesses who want one safe place to store all their important digital content and a way to easily share it with friends, family, business partners, or customers.

Walid Mikhael

Brother QL-820NWB Professional Label Printer

It’s easy to set up, it’s compact and quiet when printing and to top if off, the print quality is excellent. This is hands down the best printer I’ve used for printing labels.

Ben Ramsden

Sharp PN-40TC1 Huddle Board

Brainstorming, innovation, problem solving, and negotiation have all become much more productive and valuable if people can easily collaborate in real time with minimal friction.

Sarah Ieroianni

Brother QL-820NWB Professional Label Printer

The print quality also does not disappoint, it’s clear, bold, doesn’t smudge and the text is perfectly sized.

Ratchada Dunn

Sharp PN-40TC1 Huddle Board

The Huddle Board’s built in program; Sharp Touch Viewing software allows us to easily manipulate and edit our documents (jpegs and PDFs) all at the same time on the dashboard.

George Khoury

Sharp PN-40TC1 Huddle Board

The biggest perks for me would be that it comes with easy to use and comprehensive programs that make the collaboration process a whole lot more intuitive and organic

Featured Content

Product Launch Showcase

Latest Jobs

Don’t have an account? Sign up here

Don't have an account? Sign up now

Forgot password?