Seo Seung-Woo, director of the Intelligent Vehicle IT Research Center at Seoul National University, said the university has been testing the driverless taxi to transport handicapped students around campus.
The vehicle, called Snuber, has been navigating the 4,109 square meter (44,200 square foot) campus for the past six months without any accidents. It works in conjunction with a hailing app created by the university.
Companies around the world are betting that automated driving technology will transform public transportation.
In Japan, a company called Robot Taxi plans to offer a full commercial service in 2020. In Greece, driverless buses called CityMobil2 have been tested in real traffic.
General Motors said yesterday it is investing $500 million in ride-hailing company Lyft and forming a partnership that could eventually lead to on-demand, self-driving cars.
South Korean companies, however, have been slow to embrace the self-driving technology. The country’s largest carmaker, Hyundai Motor, said it expects to roll out a fully automated car in 2030.
Only this month, Samsung Electronics created a team to focus on autonomous driving.
On the campus of Seoul National University, many heads turn as the grey sedan passes. It has turret on its roof with devices that scan road conditions. Seo’s team outfitted the Genesis sedan with a camera, laser scanners and other sensors.
For now, due to regulations banning autonomous vehicles on the roads, a driver is behind the steering wheel and can override the automation in emergency situations.
“It will take a huge amount of time and effort,” said Seo. “We need more tests in real traffic conditions.”