Hyundai and KEPCO run Olympics on self driving cars


Attendees of the PyeongChang Winter Olympics will be transported by electricity powered shuttle buses, as well as cars that drive themselves.

Local automaker and official partner of the games, Hyundai Motors, together with Kia Motors are providing more than 4,000 vehicles. Most of the free-to-use sedans, vans and buses used to shuttle athletes, sports officials and spectators, rely on green power.

Four hydrogen-electric buses made by Hyundai Motors will shuttle visitors between Gangneung Station, the city’s main rail hub, and Gangneung Olympic Park. The buses use incapacitated driver warning systems that constantly monitor the eyes of a driver to ensure he or she remains awake.

A fifth bus will operate as an express bus carrying VIP guests from Yangyang International Airport to sites in Pyeongchang and Gangneung.

A Hyundai engineer will occupy the driver’s seat in accordance with local regulations, but the car will largely drive on its own. Out of safety concerns, it will maintain speeds below 50 KM an hour.

“We are going to operate the hydrogen-electric bus topped with state-of-the-art technology for the safety of visitors coming to see the global event,” Hyundai said in a statement. “Even after the Games finish, we will put our best effort into secure commercial vehicle safety in Korea’s public transportation.”

KEPCO has also installed 26 rapid charging stations at major Olympic venues around Gangneung and Pyeongchang to align with the organising committee’s intention of making this a green Olympics.

Hyundai has also availed five of its new hydrogen-powered sport utility vehicles, Nexo, to test its autonomous driving technology, which is Level 4 on the Society of Automotive Engineers’ index. Hyundai is using a 7km route at the Olympics as a test platform before wide release.

The self-driving Nexo is able to accelerate, slow down and stop on its own by using Lidar sensors to inspect its surroundings. It relies on preloaded map data as well as GPS readings and can run 600 kilometers on a single charge.



Image credit: Weather Underground