Kia Motors, Hyundai Granted License To Test Self-Driving Kia Soul EV, Tuscon FCV in Nevada

Kia Motors and its sister company Hyundai became the latest two automakers to take advantage of the state of Nevada’s welcoming attitude towards autonomous vehicles earlier this week, with the news that they have been granted a license by the state to operate a fully-autonomous Kia Soul EV and the world’s first autonomous hydrogen fuel cell vehicle on the state’s roads.

Announced on Monday, Kia’s new autonomous vehicle license plate — the sixteenth to be issued since Nevada began issuing the specialized plates back in 2012 — will enable Kia to operate its autonomous Kia Soul EV alongside other road users on the public highway for the first time.

Kia's autonomous drive technology will be tested on the roads of Nevada

Kia’s autonomous drive technology will be tested on the roads of Nevada

Hyundai’s autonomous Tucson hydrogen fuel cell SUV, the first hydrogen self-driving car to ever be tested on the public roads, will follow alongside its battery-powered cousin.

Like other autonomous vehicle being tested in the state, road users will be able to tell the two cars apart from the rest of the vehicles on the road courtesy of the special licence plate design: a lemniscate (infinity symbol), followed by the letters “AU” and a unique identification number, rendered in white on a red background.

Hyundai's self-driving Tucson FCV is the first autonomous hydrogen vehicle to be tested.

Hyundai’s self-driving Tucson FCV is the first autonomous hydrogen vehicle to be tested.

At the top of the plate, yellow text denotes that the vehicle is licensed in the state of Nevada, while smaller writing at the bottom of the plate reads “Autonomous Vehicle.”

Under regulations from the Nevada DMV, manufacturers, software developers and others interested in testing their vehicles in the state of Nevada must submit a special application form outlining how the vehicles will be tested, how the autonomous vehicle technology works, and what safety features the vehicle has on-board to protect itself and other road users.

To date, Kia has tested its cars on private test tracks.

To date, Kia has tested its cars on private test tracks.

Additionally applicants must prove that their vehicles have been driven in autonomous mode for a combined 10,000 miles already, as well as outline how they plan to hire and train test drivers to accompany the autonomous vehicles on the road.

To date, a variety of different companies have successfully applied for autonomous vehicle licences for the state of Nevada, including Google, Audi, Mercedes-Benz and Continental. While the majority of them have been fully-autonomous versions of production vehicles, we’ve even seen a full-size autonomous dreamliner truck courtesy of Daimler’s truck-building division.

Kia and Hyundai’s arrival in Nevada as an autonomous vehicle automaker follows an announcement made earlier this autumn in which both firms announced a massive $2 billion investment program in autonomous vehicles between now and 2018.

That investment will enable the firms to develop and refine a joint technology called Advanced Driver Assistance System (ADAS), a suite of autonomous safety features which will ultimately pave the way towards the launch of the first fully-autonomous Kia and Hyundai vehicles by 2030.

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