Self-driving cars will reportedly be getting a major boost next year within various urban centers around the globe, with South Korea now planning for commercialization in 2019. The news shouldn't come as too much of a shock, considering GM's end of November announcement of plans to put self-driving taxis across the U.S. starting in that year. Moreover, tests have been conducted in China, Germany, and elsewhere since 2010, with each country vying to implement the technology first. So, it shouldn't be surprising that the latest move on that front comes from South Korea. According to the source, the Intelligent Vehicle IT Research Center, located at the Seoul National University have only just started urban testing as of June but their vehicle and those from other manufacturers will be hitting downtown roads commercially over the course of 2019.
The other autonomous vehicle makers, of course, include SK Telecom and Naver, which have been permitted to collect real-world data over a similar time frame to Seoul National University's project. The rapid advancement in terms of commercialization, meanwhile, comes as a result of that data collection and as a result of how the companies plan to improve their respective systems using that data. SK Telecom elaborates on that further, claiming that the current iteration of the technology allows self-driving cars to reroute based on real-time traffic data sent and received via a cloud-based HD mapping system. The data is also fueling work on new advancements for the A.I. drivers behind the wheel, particularly in areas of "deep learning" which allow the system to recognize and react to pedestrians, buildings, and traffic lights. Beyond that, Naver is also said to be working to implement backup features for GPS dead-zones – primarily through lane-based location recognition.
Each of those advancements will certainly help move the global autonomous vehicle industry along, but testing is not only occurring in and around Seoul. Local governments from across the country have also been getting involved, with ZERO shuttles reportedly undergoing testing in Gyeonggi Province in partnership with KT. Those vehicles run between Pangyo Station and the Pangyo Zero City, providing crucial new data points for the country's AI-driven transportation projects.