South Korea: South Korean Telecom Company LG Uplus on Monday demonstrated autonomous driving along with a research team from Hanyang University. Powered by the company’s 5G wireless network, the self-driving car traveled about 8 kilometers alongside ordinary vehicles.
Dubbed “A1,” the autonomous vehicle was developed by the Automotive Control and Electronics Laboratory at Hanyang University. The vehicle was based on a car manufactured by Hyundai Motor and powered by LG Uplus’s 5G network in Seoul.
“It feels like I am with a skilled driver,” said Choi Yun, who accompanied the self-driving car to send images to reporters gathered at Hanyang University. “I was able to do whatever I liked as the car traveled through the crowded highways.”
Upon switching on the autonomous driving mode, the car kicked off its 25-minute journey at Seongsu-dong, eastern Seoul. It left on its own without a driver putting foot to the accelerator.
When the car was nearing the entrance of Gangbyeon Expressway, it slowed down and automatically changed lanes. The vehicle cruised along the Han River as ordinary drivers alongside stared on with curiosity.
Having traveled below the speed limit of 80 kilometers per hour, the car returned to the starting point without incident. Throughout its journey, the vehicle maintained proper distances with other cars for safety.
“Previous demonstrations for autonomous driving were carried out in controlled environments,” said Sunwoo Myung-ho, a professor who studied autonomous driving at Hanyang University and prepared for the demonstration event with LG Uplus.
“But driving in an urban area with nonautonomous vehicles was a totally different experience. It needs to be operational under any kind of weather and traffic circumstance in Seoul. Apparently, it is not easy.”
According to the professor, Monday’s success for the self-driving vehicle should be good news for its commercialization, as the demonstration was carried out in a much more hostile environment than previous tests
LG Uplus’ competitors — SK Telecom and KT — carried out their own demonstrations of self-driving cars last year. KT conducted a demonstration at the 2018 PyeongChang Winter Olympics and SK Telecom followed suit in November last year.
But LG Uplus said its self-driving car demonstrated more seamless autonomous driving by “taking full advantage” of 5G technology, which enables real-time delivery of traffic information and communication with the control center.
“In the previous 4G environment, autonomous vehicles could receive critical traffic information after travelling 2.8 meters. 5G technology can reduce it down to 1 millimeter,” said Kang Jong-oh, who manages future technology at LG Uplus.