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Seoul City to usher in a new era of self-driving cars

Posted November. 30, 2021 07:28,   

Updated November. 30, 2021 07:28


The Seoul city government is set to usher in a new era of self-driving vehicles. On Monday, a “declaration ceremony for the commercial operation of autonomous vehicles” was held at S-Plex Center Building in Mapo-gu, Seoul.

The service will kick off on Tuesday with three self-driving sedans hovering around the DMC metro station and the clusters of apartments and offices. Passengers can hail them by using a smartphone app. Seoul Mayor Oh Se-hoon became the first passenger to use the service, traveling about 2.9 kilometers from the S-Plex Center to the headquarters of Gugak FM in an autonomous vehicle.

The transportation will be provided for free during the first month to allow more people to experience self-driving cars before starting to charge for the service in mid-January next year. Booking will be open to the public on December 6 after the trial run is over. According to the ordinance, fees will be proposed at a maximum 1,200 won for bus and 3,000 won for cabs. The actual fees charged might be lower depending on business discretion.

The Seoul city government is planning to introduce more than 50 self-driving vehicles by 2026 in the Sangam-dong area alone. Along with the plan, the operation of self-driving buses will be launched for Cheonggye stream area as well as self-driving cabs for Gangnam district.

On Monday, Mayor Oh announced his “Seoul Autonomous Driving Vision 2030.” Seoul is planning to invest a total 148.7 billion won to establish self-driving cars as a main transportation in urban areas by 2026. Experts predict that an era of self-driving cars can open up soon where autonomous vehicles are deployed for public service sectors such as patrols, cleaning, and snow removal.

Seng-Hyun Kang byhuman@donga.com