Trial run of self-driving bus starts at Seoul’s main stream

Trial runs of a self-driving shuttle bus has begun with passengers on board at Cheonggyecheon Stream, a famous landmark in downtown Seoul.

The Seoul Metropolitan Government on Sept. 26 said a pilot run of the electric-powered bus began at the stream located in the city's Jongno-gu District.

Three eight-seater buses will operate at intervals of 15-20 minutes on the 4-km route, which starts at Cheonggye Plaza and ends at Sewoon Shopping Center.

Designed exclusively as an autonomous bus for public transportation and not a mass-produced vehicle equipped with radar and cameras, the bus was manufactured by 42dot, an self-driving startup that recently joined Hyundai Motor Group.

Under law, test drivers (safety management personnel) must be on board during a test run, but the bus is equipped with advanced safety systems such as pressure- and light-detecting sensors on its door. Large front glass (panorama roof) is installed on the ceiling and a large screen is attached inside along with USB ports on each seat for passenger convenience.

To meet the schedule of the "Streets without Cars" campaign in the Cheonggyecheon area, pilot trips will run from Monday to Saturday morning, with none on Sundays and holidays.

The public cannot ride the bus during the test period, but once formal operation begins, seat reservations are available on the smartphone app Tap. Once official service starts, the bus route will be extended from the plaza to Cheonggye 5-ga (roundtrip of 4.8 km) within this year with free fare.

The Seoul city government said, "Pilot runs will be completed as soon as possible and the official service of the self-driving circular bus will start next month."


By Jung Joo-ri


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