Hyundai Motor Co. said Thursday it will begin selling its first self-driving vehicles by 2021 in partnership with U.S. based self-driving technology startup Aurora Innovation Inc.
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Within in three years, Hyundai and Aurora will bring autonomous vehicles to markets that can operate without human input in most conditions, the company said in a statement.
The auto industry designates that as "level 4 autonomous driving," just one stage short of fully autonomous driving.
The partnership has yet to say how its first batch of self-driving vehicles will be used, but analysts expect they likely be for commercial use, such as self-driving taxis or ride-hailing services, rather than for sales to individual consumers. General Motors said in November that its self-driving vehicles will carry passengers and deliver goods in big cities by 2019.
Aurora was founded by a former chief technology officer at Google's self-driving car unit, a former Tesla Autopilot director and a former self-driving engineer at Uber.
Hyundai has been pursuing partnerships to keep pace with changes in an industry that is being transformed by artificial intelligence, autonomous driving and other cutting edge-technologies.
It earlier joined with Cisco Systems Inc. and Baidu Inc. to collaborate on internet-connected cars. It has also set up a $45 million fund with South Korea's SK Telecom and Hanwha Asset Management to invest in artificial intelligence startups worldwide.
The South Korean automaker plans to share more details of its project with Aurora during the Consumer Electronics Show in Las Vegas next week, where it will also unveil the brand name of a new fuel-cell SUV that will be tested for self-driving technology.
The company plans to show off some of its autonomous driving cars during the Winter Olympics Game next month in Pyeongchang, South Korea.