SEOUL, SOUTH KOREA, November 29, 2021 – The Seoul Metropolitan Government (SMG) provides autonomous public transportation services in its Pilot Driving Zone for Autonomous Vehicle in Sangam-dong.
On November 29, Seoul holds a proclamation ceremony of autonomous driving in S-Plex Center Square in Sangam-dong and announces the era of autonomous vehicles as public transportations. Oh Se-hoon, the Mayor of Seoul, will get on a self-driving car as the first passenger and drive about 2.9km from S-Plex Center to the building of Gugak Broadcasting System.
At the proclamation ceremony, Mayor Oh will issue business licenses—restricted to autonomous transport—to two companies—42dot and SWM—that provide commercial autonomous transportation services. The first license will be granted to Song Chang-hyun, CEO of 42dot, and the second will be given to Kim Ki-hyuk, CEO of SWM.
The Seoul city government designated 6.2km2 in Sangam-dong, including 24 streets (31.3km), as the Pilot Driving Zone for Autonomous Vehicle on December 8, 2020. On top of the designation, Seoul set up the “Ordinance on Operation of And Support For the Pilot Driving Zone for Autonomous Vehicle” to establish a standard and procedure for issuing commercial transportation licenses. After looking for proper candidates, Seoul selected two service providers.
Three self-driving sedans will carry passengers around DMC stations, apartment complexes, and office buildings from November 30. Seoul plans to gradually expand its fleet by adding three more vehicles, including a bus, by the end of next month.
Passengers can hail a vehicle by using an application called “TAP!”. As the service will be offered on a pre-reservation basis from Tuesday, November 30 to Saturday, December 4, citizens will be able to book a car from Monday, December 6.
According to Seoul, the service will be provided free of charge for a month to encourage more citizens to experience autonomous public vehicles. However, people will have to pay the fare from January 2022. While providing the free-riding service, the SMG will ask for opinions from experts and citizens to improve the quality of the service. After testing the quality, Seoul will provide paid services next year.
During the pilot program, citizens can use the free self-driving services if they consent to answer the survey asking for their feedback. Then, when the service is provided in earnest next January, anyone can ride the vehicle by hailing and paying by the smartphone application.
Following the decision made by the Operating Committee of Pilot Driving Zone for Autonomous Vehicle and related ordinances, the SMG suggested that fares should be KRW 1,200 for buses and 3,000 for sedans. The final fare is up to service providers, but it will not be higher than the suggested amount.
Seoul aims to make autonomous public transportation a fixture in citizens’ lives by introducing more than 50 vehicles in Sangam-dong by 2026. Its ultimate goal is to promote Seoul as a model city for autonomous driving.
After the ceremony, Seoul will co-host the “2021 Autonomous Driving Challenge (autonomous driving contest for college students)” with Hyundai Motor Company in the Pilot Driving Zone for Autonomous Vehicle.
The event was organized to step up cooperation between the public and the private sector to discover and nurture young talent in autonomous driving. The SMG will provide administrative support, such as providing traffic controls and infrastructures to run self-driving vehicles, while Hyundai will host the contest and offer vehicle and technical support to participants.
Last January, Seoul and Hyundai signed an MOU to host the “2021 Autonomous Driving Challenge” and agreed to work together to further develop technologies and nurture talented people in the autonomous driving field.
The Autonomous Driving Challenge is an event where college students build their self-driving vehicles and compete with others. Started as a biennial event in 2010, the contest marks its 6th anniversary this year.
Unlike previous events held on closed test tracks, this year’s contest will be held on open streets in the center of Seoul. The jury will evaluate each vehicle’s technological capacity while the cars drive around the city simultaneously. What is noteworthy is that the event will take place in Sangam Pilot Driving Zone for Autonomous Vehicle, the world’s first 5G-combined testing bed for urban autonomous driving.
Twenty-three teams competed in the virtual preliminary round last February, and six teams made it to the finals. In the final, six vehicles will drive 4km at the same time. The jury will measure their driving time and give penalties for violating various regulations, such as speed limits, stop lines, stop signs, and lane departure. The overall technological capacity of vehicles will be scored based on these standards.
Citizens can watch the contest in a venue at Digital Media Street in Sangam-dong. Cameras installed at every corner of the driving course will transmit real-time videos to the widescreen on the venue’s stage. In addition, in the main event hall, robot shuttles developed by Hyundai and autonomous cars built by participants will be displayed for citizens.
The SMG will present Seoul Mayor’s Awards to all six teams. They have shown the relentless spirit of challenge and dedicated months to developing high-quality autonomous driving technologies. Mayor Oh says, “Autonomous driving is not a technology of the future anymore. It is already here with us. Today, public self-driving vehicles have started to serve our citizens here in Sangam-dong.
Early next year, we will operate an autonomous bus fit for urban areas around Cheonggyecheon. The Gangnam district will expand its self-driving fleet, such as robot taxis, by collaborating with private companies.” He adds, “We expect that co-hosting the Autonomous Driving Challenge with world-leading companies will be the valuable foundation for Seoul to develop young talents who will spearhead the future of the self-driving car industry.”
<Information About the Commercial Autonomous Vehicles>
License No.: Sangam A01
License No.: Sangam A02