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Hyundai: Uber accident vindicates our 'cautious' approach

by Justin King

The Korean automaker appears to be lagging particularly far behind in bringing autonomous technology to market.

Reacting to the pedestrian death involving an autonomous Uber prototype, Hyundai claims to be intentionally developing self-driving technology at a slow pace to avoid such accidents.

The Korean automaker has been reluctant to commit significant resources to autonomous technology as rivals claim to be moving closer to launch. The company now claims its strategy is focused on safety.

Speaking to Reuters, Hyundai director Yoon Sung-hoon suggests the company's approach is "cautious" and other companies have "more relaxed" safety standards.

"No one knows under what situation accidents will occur," he added.

In Uber's case, police reviewed footage from the car and made a preliminary evaluation that the accident would have been difficult to avoid for either an autonomous or human-piloted vehicle. The victim apparently stepped out into the road suddenly as the Volvo XC90 was traveling at 38 mph.

While the fatal accident may be an unfortunate anomaly rather than a failure of autonomous technology, both Uber and Hyundai -- and most other players -- appear to be at least several years away from bringing self-driving cars to market. Hyundai is currently hoping to commercialize Level 4 vehicles by 2021.