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Hyundai, Kia invest in US self-driving firm Aurora Innovation

Hyundai Motor and its sister company Kia Motors said Thursday that they are investing in US self-driving technology company Aurora Innovation to develop and further enhance the autonomous vehicle platform. 

The investment is part of the automakers’ plan to become a game changer in the global autonomous driving ecosystem and to launch an autonomous vehicle at an early stage, Hyundai Motor Group said, without disclosing the size of the investment. 

The two companies will strengthen cooperation in the field of AI, perception and control-based technology based on Aurora’s autonomous driving system Aurora Driver, it said.

According to Hyundai Motor Group, partnership between the automaker and the tech startup began in January 2018 at the Consumer Electronics Show. 

The two sides have since been co-developing autonomous driving technology by using Hyundai Motor’s fuel-cell powered electric vehicle Nexo. 

Hyundai Motor’s Nexo (Hyundai Motor Group)
Hyundai Motor’s Nexo (Hyundai Motor Group)

“By partnering with the world’s top-class companies in the autonomous driving systems industry, Hyundai Motor Group will continue to develop (a) more innovative and safer self-driving car,” said Hyundai Motor Group President Chi Young-cho. 

A pioneer in the autonomous field, Aurora Innovation was established in 2017 and employs over 200 at offices in Pittsburgh, Palo Alto and San Francisco. Aurora CEO Chris Urmson led a Google self-driving project until it spun off as Waymo, a ride-sharing startup.

Aurora’s other co-founders are Sterling Anderson, former chief program manager of Tesla’s Model X and director of the Autopilot program, and Drew Bagnell, who was previously autonomy architect and perception lead at the Uber Advanced Technologies Group Center.

Hyundai Motor Group also said it would seek additional partnership with global companies in the autonomous field. 

Hyundai Motor has been working with global firms, including Intel and Nvidia, for AI-based technology development, as well as taking part in the Apollo Project, Baidu’s open autonomous driving program.

By Kim Da-sol (