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Seoul mayor delighted with first commercial autonomous transport service

[Courtesy of 42dot]

SEOUL – In an effort to boost the uptake of transportation services involving self-driving cars, Seoul Mayor Oh Se-hoon presided over an opening ceremony for South Korea’s first self-driving vehicle support service in a pilot area. A full service involving more than 50 autonomous vehicles will be implemented by 2026.

From November 30, three cars will begin carrying passengers. After one month of free operation, paid transport is scheduled to begin in January 2022. By the end of December 2021, Seoul will deploy six autonomous vehicles. Passengers can book a vehicle through an app called “TAP!” downloadable from Google Play Store and Apple App Store.

Oh was honored to become the first passenger to use the autonomous vehicle call service after a ceremony on November 29 in Samganm-dong, west Seoul. A Kia Niro autonomous crossover utility vehicle carried the 60-year-old on a 2.9 kilometer (1.8 mile) route.

“I was a little anxious from the psychological strain, but felt like a skillful driver was driving,” Oh told reporters after a trouble-free test drive. “It was awkward at first, but I thought it was possible to market when I saw him skillfully making left and right turns.”

Delighted with the opening of the first autonomous vehicle hospitality service in Seoul, Oh called for the rapid commercialization of comprehensive autonomous driving services to catch up with foreign pioneers like Tesla. “In the age of advanced technology of the 4th Industrial Revolution, where the leader dominates the market, there was a sense of crisis that we could fall into a second-class country, but the time has finally come to launch a paid urban transport service.

In Sangam-dong, an area of ​​6.2 square kilometers located in a well-organized new development district dotted with apartment complexes and modern office buildings along the grid-shaped road structure is one of the seven pilot areas of the country which have been designated in seven cities to accelerate the development of autonomous driving technology and mobility services such as autonomous taxis.

Oh said Seoul will try to operate an autonomous city bus service and a robotaxi that navigates the places by communicating with road structures such as traffic lights and crosswalks for pedestrians and other vehicles. “Autonomous driving is no longer a technology of the distant future, but it is already by our side.”

With Level 4 autonomous vehicles expected to be fully commercialized by 2027, Seoul will build a secure infrastructure that will offer traffic information services, including real-time traffic light information. Autonomous Level 4 vehicles have cockpits, allowing drivers to take control when needed. The most promising direction of level 4 is a robotaxi.

In September 2021, Motional, a joint venture between South Korean automotive group Hyundai and Aptiv, a global technology company offering advanced mobility solutions, unveiled the basic design of a robotaxi with Level 4 autonomous driving technologies. The robotaxi is based on IONIQ 5, a new Hyundai crossover utility vehicle.

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