Korea plans K-City, world’s largest test bed for self-driving cars
South Korea is famous for high-tech cities, starting with the ancient capital Seoul, a high tech magnet for global innovation, and more recently, the $35-billion-dollar Songdo City project, built from the ground up on reclaimed land near the Yellow Sea, billed as a model for smart cities around the globe.
A major automobile maker –and user– South Korea is now going all out in its efforts to embrace self-driving cars, planning a new urban center, K-City, that will feature bus lanes, freeways and autonomous parking zones, and everything a self-driving car might encounter. The idea is an enhancement of Michigan’s 32-acre Mcity, designed to create a real-world, off-highway, proving ground for self-driving technology.
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Korea is building a ‘city’ for self-driving cars
South Korea will soon open an 88 acre facility with everything an autonomous car might encounter, including expressways, parking areas and bus-only lanes, according to the Korea Business Times. First announced last year, it will be the world’s largest, dwarfing Michigan’s 32-acre Mcity facility that it’s reportedly based on. The idea is to let companies test self-driving tech in a repeatable way, without the hard-to-get permits normally required to test vehicles on Korea’s public roads.
South Korea produces some of the world’s most popular cars, but is well behind other nations in allowing self-driving vehicles on its streets. Despite that, it recently announced the ambitious goal to produce Level 3 vehicles (fully autonomous with a driver backup) by 2020.
The nation started issuing permits for testing on public streets last year starting with eight vehicles. Recently, it gave Samsung a new permit, allowing it to test its own self-driving platform, consisting of sensors and computing systems but not a vehicle. South Korea’s largest automaker, Hyundai, is also building self-driving tech that requires less computing horsepower than other systems, but so far it has been testing the tech in the US.