Hyundai is ramping up marketing activities to promote its self-driving Ioniq 5 Robotaxi ahead of the vehicle transporting public passengers starting in 2023.
For many taxi users the idea of being ferried around by a car with no driver is even more worrying than being driven by an actual person who could well be a complete nut-job, so Hyundai’s promo campaign focuses on reassuring us that they will always adopt safe driving behaviours.
Hyundai is also at pains to point out the humanistic qualities of the Ioniq 5 Robotaxis, though hopefully this doesn’t extend to them checking your girlfriend out in the rear view mirror, hitting on her when she’s riding alone, or having a sneaky smoke on the way to pick you up, naively thinking that the smell will have gone by the time you get in just because they had the window rolled down for the 40 seconds before you climbed aboard.
The campaign includes two interconnected videos, the first of which shows a female engineer working in an autonomous lab for the Ioniq 5 Robotaxi who is inspired by memories of her dad’s saint-like skills behind the wheel to give the self-driving Hyundai the same kind of focus on defensive driving and respect for other road users.
Well, let’s just hope my daughter doesn’t get a job with Hyundai when she’s older or the next generation of Robotaxis will be switching the traction control off on wet roundabouts, loudly critiquing the driving abilities of every other road user, doing 90 mph (145 km/h) on the freeway, and frequently coasting around with zero miles of driving range showing because it’s probably going to be fine, those range readings are always pessimistic…aren’t they?
Joking aside, the fact that we’ll be able to hail a self driving cab with Level 4 autonomous capability through Motional and Lyft as early as next year when you can’t even buy a Level 3 car in 99 per cent of the world right now is pretty mind blowing. And given some of the terrible news stories over the years about female passengers being attacked after hailing cabs, there’s no doubt some people will welcome the technology.
But I wonder – and this goes for autonomous cars in general – how this technology is going to work in real city situations. Driving in somewhere like London, for instance, when you want to pull out of a side road onto a bigger road, you need to pull into the middle of that bigger road, effectively blocking the traffic from one direction while you wait for someone coming from the other direction to slow down to let you into their lane.
If you simply wait to be let out you could be stuck there for hours, and I can’t help thinking that the 5’s ultra-cautious approach means it could be stranded, while other cars ignore it, particularly since they know there’s no driver to feel sorry for.
Maybe passengers will get so frustrated that they’ll climb into the front seat and override the whole autonomous system like Arnold Schwarzenegger going postal on his Johnny Cab in 1990’s Total Recall. Or maybe Hyundai’s engineers are smarter than I’m giving them credit for, and the Ioniq 5 Robotaxi will ace every single situation like a pro.
The scheme goes live in Las Vegas in 2023 before rolling out to other cities in the U.S. and globally, so there’s not left to wait before we find out exactly how good it is. Would you ride in a Robotaxi? Leave comment and let us know.