The use of driverless technology in mainstream models and an accelerating move towards electrified drivetrains will be two top trends for new car showrooms in 2018, says Hyundai’s Africa and Middle East chief.

Mike Song, Hyundai’s head of operations says autonomous technology is already a feature of new model launches from the brand, in many cases fitted as standard on the newest models. That technology is being used to assist the driver, rather than to take over completely, such as with autonomous emergency braking, adaptive cruise control, and lane keep assistance. However, that is about to change, and 2018 will see driverless technology take a significant step forward.

“What we have now is called Level 1 autonomy, where the car and the driver share control,” said Mike Song. “For example, the car uses adaptive cruise control to manage the brakes and accelerator on its own, but the driver steers. It’s called ‘hands on’ autonomy.

“In 2018, we will see this shift to Level 2 autonomy. This is so-called ‘hands off’ autonomy, where automated systems take complete control of the car, including accelerating, braking and steering. Drivers will still need to pay attention at all times and be ready to take over, but the car will safely handle a wide range of situations without any driver input.”

Hyundai will introduce Level 2 autonomy during 2018 with its Highway Driving Assist 2 (HDA2) system, which aims to minimize intervention by drivers. HDA2 will control speed and stay in lane in highway driving conditions, as well as well as changing to a crossroad, entering a junction, and merging onto a main road automatically, although drivers will need to signal their intentions by using their indicators. The technology incorporated into HDA2 is very close to Level 3 autonomy, which will allow drivers to safely turn their attention away from driving tasks in a limited range of traffic situations.