SEOUL, Sept. 22 (Korea Bizwire) – A temporary permit issued to conglomerate KT by the Ministry of Land, Infrastructure and Transport (MOLIT) has cleared the path for a locally developed self-driving bus to be tested on the road.
KT highlighted the momentous impact of the occasion in a public statement: “Until now, the Ministry of Land, Infrastructure and Transport has limited its approval of self-driving vehicles to a few dozen cars, but this is the first time that it has issued a permit for a self-driving bus.”
It is believed that the MOLIT held off on permits for buses due to greater safety concerns over structural limitations in comparison to smaller vehicles like sedans.
For example, buses lack the electronic control units (ECU) found in smaller vehicles. An ECU regulates various features like the steering wheel, brakes, doors, etc., and is sometimes referred to as the car’s computer. Furthermore, sensors to detect surrounding obstacles are installed at a higher elevation on buses, greatly increasing the complexity engineers face in replicating the capabilities of sensors in smaller vehicles.
Even without looking deeply into the internal infrastructure, the simple fact that buses are functionally bigger, longer and heavier has traditionally made the design and implementation of self-driving capabilities a realm reserved for automakers with storied traditions and deep pockets like Mercedes-Benz and Swedish manufacturer Scania AB.
As is evident, these daunting realities have not deterred KT, one of the “Big Three” South Korean telecom conglomerates. In 2015, KT partnered with Seoul National University and technology company Unmanned Solution to delve into self-driving car development, which eventually led to the 5G network-wired self-driving bus.
KT’s R&D team expressed excitement regarding the possibilities of conducting research in real-life settings and declared that the company would intensify its collaborative efforts with a wide range of partners to develop safe self-driving technology.