Driverless taxi making grade on Korean campus

Youkyung Lee
Associated Press

Seoul, South Korea – — A South Korean university is testing a sedan that can pick up and transport passengers without a human driver, giving a glimpse into the future of autonomous public transport.

Seo Seung-Woo, director of the Intelligent Vehicle IT Research Center at Seoul National University, said the university has been testing the driverless taxi to transport disabled students around campus.

The vehicle, called Snuber, has been navigating the 44,200-square-foot campus for six months crash-free. It works in conjunction with a hailing app the university created.

Companies around the world are betting that automated driving technology will transform public transportation.

The gray sedan has a turret on its roof with devices that scan road conditions. Seo’s team outfitted it with a camera, laser scanners and other sensors.

For now, due to regulations banning autonomous vehicles on the roads, a driver is behind the steering wheel and can take control in emergency situations.

The car cannot travel faster than 18.6 miles per hour because of the speed limit on campus. There are no full traffic lights but researchers have programmed Snuber to navigate around other challenges.

The vehicle applies a brake at a stop sign and a crosswalk. When another vehicle stops in the middle of the road, the automated sedan will scan the other lanes to detect vehicles traveling from the opposite direction. If there are none, Snuber moves into the oncoming lane to pass.