The nation's administrative capital of Sejong will test-run self-driving buses from 2021. (iclickart)

The nation's administrative capital of Sejong will start offering self-driving bus service from 2021. (iclickart)

By Kim Eun-young and Kim Minji

The country's administrative capital of Sejong from 2021 will be the first region in the country to run self-driving buses thanks to the city's designation as a special zone for self-driving and its roads being compatible with the bus rapid transit (BRT) system. 

The government on July 24 held a meeting in the Haeundae-gu district of Busan on regulation-free special zones to propel province-led innovative growth. Seven areas outside of the Seoul metropolitan area were designated as such zones including Sejong and Busan.

The zones are part of a campaign to spur industrial and technological development by governments in non-capital regions by deferring or exempting regional regulations. The policy was implemented in April this year to promote balanced national development through regulatory innovation. 

The self-driving buses will have 5G network technology installed to continuously share transportation data. Each vehicle will also have a precision map updated in real time, the ability to recognize traffic lights and a vehicle-to-vehicle communication system to ultimately ensure efficient traffic flow. 

Sejong from 2021 will first hold trial runs of 20 self-driving buses on roads, residential complexes and city areas, with the number to expand to 200 by 2033. 

Sejong Mayor Lee Choon-hee said, "Sejong will correct its lack of sufficient parking lots and create a more efficient structure for public transportation," adding, "We'll strive to inspect safety and promote the self-driving vehicle industry."


The Ministry of Land, Infrastructure and Transport announces that it will build a cooperative intelligent transportation system (C-ITS) across downtown Seoul, in Seoul on May 13. The photo shows a concept map of the autonomous driving area. (Ministry of Land, Infrastructure and Transport)

By Kim Eun-young and Hahm Hee-eun

Driverless buses will be operated in the Digital Media City (DMC) area of Sangam-dong as early as late 2019 as part of a pilot project for self-driving vehicles. The Seoul Metropolitan City government plans to establish the world’s first 5G driverless vehicle network and to use next-generation tech to support autonomous buses.

On May 13, the Ministry of Land, Infrastructure and Transport announced that it would build a "cooperative intelligent transportation system" (C-ITS) in downtown Seoul in cooperation with the Seoul Metropolitan Government.

The DMC area in Sangam-dong has a wide range of road types, including tunnels and roundabouts, which makes it an ideal test area for autonomous driving. The test area is also equipped with a high-speed 5G mobile communications network that can greatly reduce traffic accidents by sending large amounts of information in less than 0.1 seconds.

Moreover, a wireless LAN-based vehicle communications technology created by the American Institute of Electrical and Electronics Engineers, or "WAVE," and the "Cellular-V2X Network," which is being rapidly commercialized worldwide by global telecommunications standards-development organizations, are both in the process of building vehicle networks.

Various kinds of information about traffic situations and dangers can be provided in real-time from the infrastructure itself and from other automobiles, enabling safer autonomous driving.

After the tests, the Seoul Metropolitan City plans to commercialize its self-driving bus system in select regions where public transportation is insufficient.

An official from the Ministry of Land, Infrastructure and Transport said, "Once the conditions for autonomous cooperative driving have been established in the city center of Seoul, autonomous navigation technology will be able to make a leap forward."

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