South Korea allows KT to test self-driving bus in Seoul
The Korean telco has completed a four-hour test drive earlier this month
The government of South Korea has allowed mobile network operator KT to test a self-driving bus in capital Seoul.
With this permission, the operator can test its 45-passenger autonomous bus on public roads. KT said it has already completed a four-hour test drive on Gangnam Boulevard and Teheran Road, earlier this month.
The operator has been working to develop autonomous vehicles since 2015 and unveiled the autonomous bus in March last year.
“Government permission for tests is expected to help KT gain the upper hand against its rivals as the nation plans to roll out a cooperative intelligent transport system (C-ITS) in the near future,” the company said.
The C-ITS is a platform that will allow drivers and traffic managers to share data and use it to coordinate their actions.
KT highlighted that the autonomous bus is capable of driving at more than 70 kilometers per hour, while it is also capable of autonomous driving in congested downtown areas.
The company plans to collect a variety of information regarding self-driving on highways and public roads, while focusing on developing autonomous driving in a convoy, with one bus following only inches behind the next.
“KT plans to secure optimal technology for wireless infrastructure in order to commercialize the autonomous bus as well as self-driving cars,” said Jeon Hong-beom, head of the telco’s infrastructure research lab. “We are set to aggressively join the government’s C-ITS plan to take a leading role in self-driving initiatives.”
KT previously said it aims to launch commercial 5G services in 2019. The telco said it will demonstrate 5G services during the PyeongChang Winter Olympics next month.
SK Telecom also testing
Other Korean telcos are also working in the autonomous vehicles field. In September 2017, SK Telecom completed a self-driving car test run.
The vehicle demonstration took place on the Gyeongbu Expressway, the most heavily traveled expressway in Korea, and the vehicle traveled approximately 26 kilometers (from Seoul Service Area to Suwon-Shingal Interchange) at a speed of up to 80 kilometers per hour (50km/h on average).
In July 2017, SK Telecom received a license from the Ministry of Land, Infrastructure and Transport for testing its autonomous driving car on local roads. SK Telecom’s Vehicle Tech Lab has been working closely with diverse partners, including Nvidia and LG Electronics, to develop self-driving technologies such as artificial intelligence computers, sensors, and route determination/tracing.
SK Telecom has also built a high-speed 5G network in K-City, a pilot city for self-driving, in partnership with the Korea Transportation Safety Authority (KOTSA).
K-City has a total area of around 363,000 square meters. It has a variety of test driving lanes that resemble real-world driving conditions including a school zone and bus-only lane.
SK Telecom said it has set up a control center for 5G in the test site that can share data with test cars in less than 0.001 seconds. It also set up infrastructure there that is meant to make 3D maps with high accuracy of less than 20cm for cars.