For the first time level 4 autonomous driving has been achieved in a fuel cell electric vehicle. With level 0 being no automation and level 5 being a driver-less car able to operate on any road in any conditions a human driver could negotiate, level 4 is considered “high automation”. A level 4 autonomous vehicle can operate without human input or oversight but only under select conditions, typically highway conditions.
Recently, five Hyundai fuel cell electric vehicles completed a self-driven 118 mile journey from Seoul to Pyeongchang. Not at limited speed on domestic roads, but at the speed limit of 68 mph on public highways. The level 4 autonomous vehicles equipped with 5G network technology executed lane changes, passing maneuvers, and navigated toll gates.
These self-driving vehicles use an array of cameras, radar, LiDAR (laser sensors), and GPS to identify their location and be able to navigate through obstacles like toll gates. Autonomous driving processes a high volume of data, which requires a lot of power. The fuel cell electric model is an ideal choice since it produces electricity through a reaction between hydrogen and oxygen in the on-board fuel cell stack.
The Hyundai Tucson fuel cell crossover was introduced in 2014 as the first mass produced fuel cell electric vehicle in the U.S. Having driven over 3 million miles on California roads and highways it is estimated that instead of emitting over 1,140 tons of CO2 emissions they have emitted only clean water vapor.
2017 Tucson Fuel Cell
The current Tucson Fuel Cell CUV has a number of advantages over some other alternative fuels. The energy-rich hydrogen fuel provides an estimated driving range of 265 miles between fill-ups, similar to many gasoline vehicles. The Tucson Fuel Cell can be refilled with hydrogen in less than five minutes, about the same time as a typical gasoline vehicle. While it performs just as strongly as an internal combustion engine, its only emission is water. And it’s just as quiet as a standard electric vehicle while going farther on a single fuel fill-up versus a single electric full charge.