South Korea Aims to Offer Autonomous Bus Service by 2022

South Korea, which will begin testing automated shuttle buses on public streets in Sejong later this year, plans to launch commercial service in that city by 2022.

Initial tests will involve buses equipped with Level 3 autonomous driving capability and an onboard backup driver. The buses will be operated over a 6-mile route.

Passengers will be able to use a smartphone app to request to be picked up and dropped off from various stations along the route. New stops will be added based on rider demand.  

Eight Level 4 buses will be added to the tests in 2021. At that time, the route will be expanded to 22 miles.

Preliminary tests earlier this year were conducted with semi-autonomous 15-passenger vans. Developed by Hyundai in partnership with KTI, SK Telecom and Seoul National University, those vehicles were tested at 25 mph over a 2-mile route.  

Sejong was established in 2012 as administrative city for various government agencies to help reduce congestion in Seoul. Planners aim to make the city a hub for research and development, “green” tech and a “smart” infrastructure.