KT to test-drive large-sized autonomous bus

The South Korea government has given KT permission to test-drive a full-size self-driving bus.

The approval means the nation’s second-largest wireless provider can test its 45-passenger autonomous bus on public roads. The Seoul-based firm completed a four-hour test drive on Gangnam Boulevard and Teheran Road, Jan. 5.

Since 2015, the nation’s second-largest wireless provider has been developing autonomous vehicles, and unveiled the driverless bus in March 2017.

“Government permission for tests is expected to help KT gain the upper hand against its rivals as the nation plans to roll out a Cooperative Intelligent Transport System (C-ITS) in the near future,” a company official said.

The C-ITS is a platform that will allow drivers and traffic managers to share data and use it to coordinate their actions.

Given the minimum lane width of 3 meters in Korea, the bus, which is 2.5 meters wide, requires more advanced technologies to stay between the lines.

To this end, KT has adopted vehicle-to-everything (V2X) communication. This refers to the passing of information from a vehicle to any entity that may affect the vehicle, and vice versa, to save lives and improve mobility.

As a result, the autonomous bus is capable of driving at more than 70 kilometers per hour, while it is also capable of autonomous driving in congested downtown areas, according to KT.

The company plans to collect a variety of information regarding self-driving on highways and public roads, while focusing on developing autonomous driving in a convoy, with one bus following only inches behind the next.

“KT plans to secure optimal technology for wireless infrastructure in order to commercialize the autonomous bus as well as self-driving cars,” said Jeon Hong-beom, head of the firm’s infrastructure research lab.

“We are set to aggressively join the government’s C-ITS plan to take a leading role in self-driving initiatives.”

Under the leadership of Chairman Hwang Chang-gyu, the nation’s largest fixed-line telecom operator has focused on futuristic technologies.

It has a plan to commercialize the world’s first 5G services in 2019 by successfully demonstrating them at the PyeongChang Winter Olympics next month.

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