Hoping to accelerate the development of Korean-made self-driving vehicles, South Korea is building a city filled to the brim with everything an autonomous vehicle could possibly encounter — from highways and bus lanes to damaged street signs — except for human beings.
Known as K-City, this empty 88-acre test city, which is being developed by the Ministry of Land, Infrastructure, and Transport, will provide a safe environment for experimentation. While it might not produce the type of data that testing on the open road would provide, autonomous vehicle experiments inside of K-city would allow companies to test individual parts of the car’s programming under controlled conditions without risking human lives.
Many major South Korean companies have already expressed interest in K-City, including automakers Hyundai and Kia, and tech giant Samsung.
South Korean officials hope to have fully autonomous vehicles produced within the country by 2020. Demonstrating their commitment to this ambitious goal, they have recently been issuing permits for companies to conduct tests on public roads. Although these permits remain difficult to obtain, the construction of K-City provides another avenue of testing and, by extension, reduces the need for these permits.
K-City echoes similar projects located in other countries, such as Mcity, a test city for self-driving cars located in the United States. These projects have been spurred on by rising interest in driver-less cars throughout both the tech and auto industries, with multiple companies vying to be the leader in what looks to be a promising future market.
By T. Kim