Flagship sedans are essentially an emblem of an automaker; they are a manifestation of not only the era’s industry trends but also the technological and aesthetic direction of a brand. Indeed, it is through the flagships that the automakers promise the highest satisfaction to their consumers and build their brand image. Then what are the requisite virtues of a flagship? Design, performance, and a sense of dignity have always been obvious musts; however, now that we have come close to the age of autonomous driving, the quality of ADAS(Advanced Driver Assistance System) is rapidly becoming a new measure of excellence in flagship sedans. How has ADAS evolved through the years? We look into the past three decades of Hyundai’s flagship Grandeur to investigate the history of the technology’s development.
Automakers have always strived to reduce the number of accidents caused by driver inattention. The ADAS technology, which in essence lets the system take control to avoid accidents or reduce driver fatigue, was the direct result of such efforts. The Society of Automotive Engineers(SAE) categorizes ADAS by 6 levels of vehicle autonomy. If a driver takes control of all aspects of a vehicle, level 0; if a single automated system exists for driver assistance, such as speed and lane maintenance, level 1; if comprehensive assistance on speed, following distance, and lane maintenance is possible under certain conditions, level 2; if full autonomous driving is possible under certain restricted conditions(e.g. highway), level 3; if such driving is possible on nearly all roads, level 4; if driving requires no intervention from human passengers, level 5. Most vehicles currently on sale are grouped within levels 0 to 2, with the cars manufactured before 2010 in levels 0 and 1.
Enabling the maintenance of a set speed, cruise control can be considered the most basic form of ADAS technology, as it does take on the responsibility, if only partially, of a driving task. The 1st-gen Grandeur(1986~1992) was equipped with cruise control, which was rare at the time for domestically produced cars. The biggest advantage of cruise control is reducing driver fatigue in long-distance drives and improving fuel efficiency by eliminating unnecessary acceleration and deceleration. Since the ability to maintain a set speed is a prerequisite for its use, it was particularly useful for driving highways without traffic. Beyond cruise control, the 1st-gen Grandeur came with the pioneering equipment such as the MPI engine, electronic A/C system, ABS, and double-laminated safety glass.
The 2nd-gen Grandeur(1992~1998) featured airbags, Korea’s first, and the 3.5L engine, then Korea’s largest displacement, to continue the reputation and popularity of the first generation. Within the 2nd-gen, a newly introduced part relevant to ADAS is Traction Control System(TCS). TCS controls the brake and engine output to prevent wheels from spinning without traction, thereby ensuring optimal grip and power efficiency.
Technically speaking, TCS cannot be considered a part of ADAS. But as it is an essential control mechanism that stands as the foundation of the modern ADAS technology, introducing it was a meaningful step forward to greater autonomy. Incidentally, TCS was highly advanced technology then; cars at the time had a mechanical structure where the throttle valve and the accelerator pedal was connected by metal cables, which made the addition of a power-controlling device difficult. TCS maintained its presence as an essential driving assistance equipment through the 3rd generation Grandeur XG(1998~2005).
As explained above, an important prerequisite to ADAS is the conversion of certain relevant parts into electronics. In that vein, the 4th-generation Grandeur TG(2005~2010) was equipped with an electronic throttle. The prominent characteristic of the new throttle was the improved maneuverability of power transmission control, which subsequently led to the improved market trust in Hyundai’s TCS, VDC, and Cruise Control(for export). The new throttle valve was controlled via an electronic signal, which allowed the engineers to remove the actuator and other unnecessary mechanical parts. The simplified control structure allowed for more precise control of the vehicle posture.
The 5th-gen Grandeur HG(2010~2016) marked the brand’s first application of ADAS: it was equipped with Smart Cruise Control(SCC), which automatically maintains speed and following distance, and Lane Departure Warning(LDW), which warns the driver when the vehicle drifts from the lane. This active systemic control of acceleration and deceleration qualified the vehicle to meet the SAE’s level 1 standard of autonomy.
SCC used the radar sensor located on the bottom of the bumper to detect the distance to the preceding vehicle and adjust the speed in accordance. It was active at speeds above 30 km/h and even had the ability to come to a full stop and accelerate again. As a reference, the competing models at the time often did not have this stop-and-go ability.
LDW, first introduced to the Grandeur line at this time, used a forward-facing camera to notice lane drifting and warned the driver in such an event. While it did not actively intervene in the steering, LDW did mark Graudeur’s first ADAS-relevant functionality about steering.
Beyond SCC and LDW, two other features were notable additions to the 5th-gen Grandeur’s ADAS package: Parking Assist(PA) uses a sensor to scan the parking space and automatically adjusts the steering to execute parallel parking, right-angle parking, and exit. Blind-Spot Collision Warning(BCW) warns the driver when another car comes from the rear-side blind spot while the driver attempts to exit the parking space. These functions allowed the engineers to enhance the safety and convenience of Grandeur without sacrificing cost-effectiveness: because they took advantage of existing electronic devices and sensors, they could minimize the addition of new expensive devices to the vehicle.
The 6th-gen Grandeur IG(2016~) was equipped with a more capable ADAS system with a wider range of driving assistance features. For instance, LDW evolved into Lane Following Assist(LFA), which does not stop at merely warning the driver of lane drifting but actively steers the vehicle to the lane’s center. LFA was also incorporated at this time into the existing Smart Cruise Control system, which allowed the driver to delegate the driving entirely to ADAS under conditions of simple, patterned traffic―like highways, for example. This capability made Grandeur IG a level-2 autonomous vehicle, a major technological coup for the flagship line.
The performance levels of ADAS were also improved. SCC now responded faster to another car cutting in, and it operated precisely even in rain thanks to the higher-resolution camera and improved data analysis capabilities. BCW also evolved into Blind-Spot Collision-Avoidance Assist(BCA), which likewise does not stop at mere warning but actively stops the vehicle from a blind spot collision by applying subtle brakes to a rear wheel.
The recent trend in ADAS’s evolution is in the integration of all the data from the sensors―that is, the existing sensors are increasingly being utilized to provide the data for expanded ADAS functionality. Up to the 5th generation, Grandeur’s forward-facing camera was used only for Lane Drifting Warning(LDW) and Lane Keeping Assist(LKA), but from the 6th-gen and beyond, it is used for reading traffic signs and detecting other cars, pedestrians, and bicycles as part of Forward-Collision Warning(FCW) and Forward Collision-Avoidance Assist(FCA) functions. Likewise, SCC has evolved into Highway Driving Assist(HDA), which uses the navigation’s map data to detect the upcoming curve or the safe zone and adjust the vehicle speed to the safe level.
The New Grandeur offers popular ADAS features as part of its basic package, including the aforementioned FCA, LKA, and LFA, as well as Driver Attention Warning(DAW), Forward Car Movement Alert, and High Beam Assist(HBA), which automatically turns the high beam on and off depending on the surrounding environment. The existing Blind-Spot Collision-Avoidance Assist(BCA) feature also underwent a performance renovation, expanding the conditions under which it becomes active and offering new safety features. Rear Cross-Traffic Collision-Avoidance Assist(RCCA) automatically stops the backward-moving vehicle when another car approaches from either side; Safe Exit Assist(SEA) keeps the rear door shut if a fast-approaching vehicle from the rear poses a threat to the exiting passenger; and Reverse Parking Collision-Avoidance Assist(RPCA) actively stops the vehicle in reverse gear from colliding with pedestrians or obstacles.
But perhaps the most noteworthy evolution of the New Grandeur’s ADAS system is that the range of HDA’s use has expanded to include expressways. This new inclusion was only made possible due to advancements in navigation data processing and sensor precision over the past decade.
With its first generation’s cruise control setting the foundation for the subsequent evolutions, Hyundai’s flagship Grandeur line now offers level-2 autonomous driving. But what will its future hold? If its history of development is any indication, Grandeur will continue to provide a safe and convenient driving experience―by ceaselessly evolving to meet the demands of the changing times.
HMG Journal Operation Teamgroup@hyundai.com
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