Hyundai and automotive supplier Aptiv (formerly Delphi) on Monday announced plans to form a self-driving technology joint venture valued at $4 billion.
Aptiv has been developing self-driving technology for a number of years through its own research but also acquisitions, namely the acquisition of Boston-based nuTonomy in 2017. It started commercial trials of self-driving taxis in 2018 with ride-hailing company Lyft in parts of Las Vegas and has also been testing prototypes in Boston, Pittsburgh and Singapore. Hyundai has also been testing self-driving cars using its Nexo fuel cell-electric SUV as the basis for its prototypes.
The deal between Aptiv and Hyundai will see the formation of a 50:50 joint venture, with Aptiv contributing its intellectual property and team of 700 researchers and Hyundai (and Kia) contributing $1.6 billion in cash and $400 million worth of engineering services, R&D resources, and access to intellectual property.
Heading the joint venture will be Karl Iagnemma, Aptiv's current head of self-driving technology development.
The goal of the joint venture is to develop a reliable and robust self-driving system with Level 4 and Level 5 capability on the SAE scale, and then license this system to third parties including other automakers. A Level 4 self-driving car can operate on its own within set conditions, the main one being a geofenced area with sufficient map data. A Level 5 self-driving car can operate in all conditions expected of a human driver.
Aptiv and Hyundai hope to have their first jointly developed self-driving system testing in 2020 and on sale as early as 2022.
Rivals in this space include Ford and Volkswagen Group's Argo AI, General Motors' Cruise, and Alphabet Inc.'s Waymo, just to name a few. Hyundai also partnered with rival self-driving technology company Aurora Innovation in early 2018, though it isn't clear how the latest partnership with Aptiv affects the earlier deal.