Hyundai Motor has received a license from the South Korea transport ministry for testing its autonomous-driving car on local roads, a move to facilitate the automaker’s plan to commercialize driverless vehicles by 2020.
Korea’s largest carmaker plans to test a self-driving Genesis premium sedan, equipped with GPS and the latest sensors, as early as April. The company said it will mobilize more resources to develop fully-autonomous vehicles before its global rivals do and capitalize on this rapidly emerging auto segment.
“We have tested our self-driving vehicles several times before in controlled environments with no other cars on the road,” a Hyundai Motor spokesman said. “With this new license, we will be able to test the vehicles in real traffic conditions on designated sections of expressways and regular roads. We will make every effort to become a global leader in this highly-promising segment.”
The Ministry of Land, Infrastructure and Transport held a ceremony at the Sejong Government Complex to issue the nation’s first license for an autonomous vehicle and license plate to Hyundai Motor. Both license and plate are valid for five years.
On Feb. 12, the automaker filed applications, asking the ministry to grant a license for its Genesis premium sedan and licenses for two drivers who must be in the car at all times it is on the road. The ministry had previously revised the Automobile Management Act, making it possible for self-driving vehicles to be tested on roads and highways.
The Korea Transportation Safety Authority verified that the autonomous Genesis sedan met all the requirements set by the law.
The vehicle is equipped with features including traffic jam assist, highway driving assist and narrow passage assist. It can easily be switched to manual mode when needed, meaning that a person holding the license has to sit in the driver’s seat while it is on the road.
The Genesis sedan is also required to carry a visible sign so that other drivers can be aware of what it is.
The autonomous car can only run on two sections of expressways and four sections of regular roads, spanning a combined 320 kilometers.
The ministry said the country’s first self-driving car license will prompt others to follow suit, adding it is currently reviewing an application filed by Kookmin University.
“We are getting a growing number of inquiries from universities and small businesses about autonomous vehicle licenses,” a ministry official said. “We expect more self-driving vehicles will be seen on local roads. The government will allow the vehicles to run on any roads here as long as they don’t pose a threat to other drivers.”
The government will ease rules to make it more convenient and less costly for businesses to develop and test autonomous cars, the official said.
Last December, Hyundai Motor obtained licenses to test its self-driving vehicles on highways in the United States. The automaker can now test run two Tucson hydrogen fuel cell vehicles and two Soul electric cars on the highways of Nevada.
Source: Korea Times