Hyundai to create ‘talking‘ vehicles
By Kim Tae-gyu
The Korean government has plans to support the country’s automobile industry with the aim of developing vehicles that can communicate with drivers in the next decade.
The Ministry of Knowledge Economy (MKE) said Wednesday that it will financially support the high-tech research center of Hyundai Motor Group located in Uiwang, about 25 kilometers south of Seoul.
``The line between the automotive and IT businesses continues to blur as seen in telematics. In line with the fast convergence of the two, we expect that the future of the automotive industry will lie in IT,’’ MKE official Kim Dong-hwan said.
``Through research at the Hyundai high-tech center, futuristic cars will be developed. We will strive to create vehicles that can communicate verbally with motorists by 2020.’’
The MKE plans to provide 75 percent of the cost of the center’s software tests carried out in an alliance with state-backed agencies and other private firms.
Telematics refers to the latest cross between computer technology and wireless telecommunications, enabling the provision of a wide array of services inside an automobile.
With the help of telematics, drivers can connect to the Internet as well as take advantage of application services on a terminal in the vehicle.
Telematics is projected to bring sedans or trucks equipped with a set of cutting-edge technologies including the capacity to communicate with drivers while on the move.
Kim said that the related technologies are already advanced in coming up with ``talking’’ cars.
``The in-car software already understands what people say almost perfectly. Yet, we would need more advanced artificial intelligence for cars to communicate with drivers without big problems,’’ Kim said.
Over the long haul, Kim expects that the software initiative will lead to the advent of driverless vehicles.
``An autonomous car is the eventual goal of delving into software systems and other associated technology. However, it is likely to take quite a long time,’’ he said.
The Hyundai research lab opened in 2009 with the support of the MKE to bring together a total of 23 small- and medium-sized enterprises, which focus on such in-vehicle solutions software and systems.
The ministry points out that the business partnership between the country’s foremost carmaker and small-sized firms are successful cases of win-win growth between conglomerates and their partners.
The topic has become a hot agenda in Korea as criticism has sprouted up of late that large-sized companies are expanding their business empires at the expense of smaller ones, typically their subcontractors or suppliers.
The 23 companies involved recorded growth over the past three years far faster than the market.
Their combined turnover was 191 billion won in 2008 but the figure jumped by 34.3 percent to 290.7 billion won last year while their employment also rocketed by 22.7 percent from 1,087 to 1,406 during the three-year span.
In another achievement, 36 intellectual property rights were secured both at home and abroad.