Samsung Has a Self-Driving Car Test Track in South Korea

January 11, 2016 - Written By Daniel Fuller

Google may have been the revolutionary that started the self-driving car movement and a dominating force due to their deal with Ford, but they’re far from the only player in the field. Uber, Apple, Tesla and various car companies are all in the process of creating, implementing and testing their own systems for driverless cars. With each passing day, self-driving tech gets better and better and mainstream adoption seems closer and closer to reality. With more players jumping into the field and contributing to the data while developing their own solutions, the resulting snowball is bringing self-driving tech to us faster and faster with each entrant. Samsung is also a part of this new frontier and arms race in the automobile market and they just happen to have their own test track.

In Korea, Samsung owns and operates a theme park. In that theme park lies a speed way that once was just about the only legal place to race in Yongin, Gyeonggi has been out of racing use since 2009. Since then, it’s only been used for test drives, events, shows and the like. Samsung, hand in hand with the local government, plans to turn it into a full-featured test track for self-driving cars, complete with almost all the traditional trappings of a real roadway. A Samsung rep explained the decision, saying “It is very difficult to find new space to build a racecourse to test autonomous vehicles or get a license to operate one… Samsung already owns Speedway, so we just need to add some features to the existing racecourse.”

The plan is to turn the 4.5 kilometer race track into a gauntlet of sorts for self-driving cars. There are also plans for Samsung and the local government to work with Pangyo Digital to eventually create an actual road, planned to be about 2 kilometers long, that’s tailor-made for self-driving and human-driven cars to share. Under the microscope as the inspiration for the project is Mcity, a 32 acre concrete jungle hosted by the University of Michigan for exactly the purpose Samsung is looking at for their speedway. Worht noting is that the Korea Transportation Safety Authority does operate a test track, but it wasn’t made with self-driving cars in mind and is far from ideal for Samsung’s purposes.