Seoul launches its first driverless bus!

Sylvie Claire / November 26, 2022

Seoul launched its first self-driving bus line on Friday, in an experiment that the engineers behind it say aims to make the public more confident about driverless vehicles.
The new vehicle doesn't look like an ordinary bus: it's fully symmetrical, with rounded edges and large windows that make it look more like a toy than a state-of-the-art transportation device.
An intentional design, according to Jeong Seong-gyun, head of autonomous driving at 42 Dot, the startup - now owned by South Korea's Hyundai - that created the autonomous driving technology featured here. "This is the future," he assures AFP, adding that as a result, "a remarkable new type of design" was needed.
The bus looks a bit "like a Lego" because it was made from composite parts to cut costs and make it easy to replicate, he says.
 We want to foster the era of autonomous driving," he says, noting that the company's goal is to make the technology inexpensive, safer and easily transferable to many different types of vehicles, such as delivery trucks.
Currently under the close watch of a driver, the new bus will drive itself on a new route, a short 3.4-kilometer circuit around the downtown area of South Korea's capital city, lasting about 20 minutes.
People can board at one of two designated stops after reserving a free seat  via an app.
To get around, the bus uses a camera and laser, not expensive sensors, Jeong says.
On the day of the launch on Friday, many passersby seemed intrigued by the design of the bus, stopping to photograph it and look inside, or asking questions of the 42 Dot staff who were standing nearby.
"I feel like I jumped into a future travel machine," commented 68-year-old Kim Yi hae-ran after his ride.
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