South Korean government promotes autonomous vehicles

The South Korean government held a test-drive event in southern Seoul on 17 June to give the general public first-hand experience of autonomous vehicles and to see the technologies at work, reports the Yonhap News Agency. The South Korean government's Transport Minister Kim Hyun-mee and citizens who applied for the event tested self-driving vehicles. The vehicles could recognise nearby cars or passersby on the road and take necessary steps to avoid collision.

Significance: The latest development is in line with the government's objective to commercialise Level 3 autonomous vehicles by 2020. The US Society of Automotive Engineers (SAE) defines six levels of automated driving, from 0 to 5. Level 3 autonomous vehicles require a human in the driving seat, but a combination of hardware and software takes control most of the time. As part of its efforts, the government has been issuing licences to test autonomous vehicles on city roads. It has so far issued licences to about 46 self-driving cars under development, said the report. Last year, it partially opened the test bed, called K-city, for autonomous vehicles in a bid to enable companies and researchers to test their self-driving vehicles in a real road environment. Construction of the entire K-city is expected to be completed by the end of 2018. The South Korean government also plans to invest KRW11.9 billion (USD10.8 million) in 2018 for the development of autonomous vehicles. The government also plans to put in place recall and examination standards for autonomous vehicles by 2020. Furthermore, the report highlights that the government will establish a three-dimensional, high-precision navigation map that will cover 5,000 km of highways by 2020 and will also establish a "smart road" system that allows sensors built into roadsides to communicate with autonomous vehicles on the roads.

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