Naver's subsidiary Naver Labs became the first South Korean company to be granted a license to test autonomous vehicles on public roads in the Far Eastern country. The firm received its permission from the Ministry of Land, Transport and Maritime Affairs on Monday, the ministry announced. Naver Labs' license was the 13th license issued under a new system for testing of self-driving vehicles in the country. The system was introduced exactly a year ago but has so far never allowed a manufacturer to test its driverless vehicles on public roads. Other companies and institutions that are already developing autonomous vehicles in the country include the likes of Hyundai and Seoul National University, as well as the Korea Transportation Safety Authority.
The Korean ministry that granted the license to Naver Labs said how it's hoping that this latest turn of events will facilitate the development of self-driving vehicles in the Far Eastern country. The permit given to Naver Labs is temporary but will nonetheless allow the company to test its latest creations on public roads for the foreseeable future. Naver's subsidiary said how its initial tests conducted on public roads will focus on collecting data and analyzing actual driving environments, all with the goal of improving the artificial intelligence (AI) operating the vehicle. This is something that tech giants in the United States like Google, Uber, and Lyft have been doing for a while now, but Korean companies have so far been prevented from testing their experimental vehicles in actual driving conditions due to a stricter regulatory framework governing such creations.
Naver Labs has been developing autonomous and semi-autonomous driving technologies for several years now and the company states that its long-term goal is to improve the future of mobility and make roads smarter and more suitable for contemporary connected vehicles. The South Korean government is currently realizing a plan whose goal is to commercialize fully autonomous vehicles by 2020 and the operating license it has granted to Naver Labs is seen as an extension of that strategy. The video below showcases the company's latest accomplishments while an update on its endeavors is expected to follow shortly.