Taking in ride in Hyundai's Ioniq self-driving car

Autonomous driving technology is progressing fast and Hyundai is demonstrating its prototype on the streets of Las Vegas.

The Hyundai Ioniq is a level 4 autonomous car — that means the car can drive itself without human help. It stops at traffic signals, negotiates turns and slows for traffic and pedestrians.

Three laser imaging sensors at the front of the car keep watch on the surroundings and a computer matches what they see with a digital map resiging in the car’s computer. This is how most autonomous cars work these days — the road they travel on needs to be pre-mapped because they aren’t capable of truly understanding where they are and their surroundings.

The ride in the car with fairly smooth although some accelaration, braking and steering was a little bit jerky — a sign of the computer control.

An interesting part of the drive was that the car stuck to the speed limit when most other road users didn’t. But then Hyundai could hardly program the car to break the law.

The car had traffic rules programmed in, so it knew when to yield and where it could turn right on a red signal. About the only place it didn’t drive autonomously was the hotel parking lot — a combination of the complexity of the roads and that it was private property.

Taking back control is as simple as grabbing the steering wheel or placing your foot on one of the pedals.

Self-driving techbology is coming along in leaps and bounds each year and the day can’t be too far off when this starts appearing in production cars.