South Korean car-sharing service company SoCar will start a test run of their driverless shuttles on Jeju Island. SoCar’s scheduled their trial to begin during the first half of 2021. Alongside RideFlux, the car rental and car-sharing operator will launch an autonomous airport pickup service.
During the test run, the company arranged a Chrysler Pacifica minivan to drive through a 38-kilometer (24-mile) route. The course extends over Jeju International Airport to the Jungmun Tourist Complex near Seogwipo area. “The goal this year is to expand the service to all of Jeju’s major car roads, which totals to nearly 400 kilometers,” said SoCar.
Each self-driving shuttle has the capacity to accommodate five people. As required by law and as an extra layer of safety, two company employees will escort the customers. A trained employee will occupy the driver’s seat and another one will take the front passenger seat.
SoCar and RideFlux automated driving operation employs the longest route authorized by the Ministry of Land, Infrastructure, and Transport. SoCar also revealed that the number of minivans to be operated for public use has not been determined yet. SoCar’s shuttle service fee is still pending as well.
“Within the next few years, we’ll see mobility companies start a full-fledged competition to grab leadership in transportation services via autonomous vehicles,” said SoCar chief executive Park Jae-wook. “SoCar will make efforts to raise its competitiveness by combining its ride-sharing and car-hailing capabilities with RideFlux’s self-driving solutions.”
SoCar organized the program in partnership with Jeju’s RideFlux. RideFlux Inc. is a startup centered on improving South Korea’s first on-demand self-driving software technology. “The company’s top priority is to secure high-level safety and credibility without a human driver in an autonomous vehicle to open an era of using a car-sharing service,” a RideFlux officer said.
In May 2020, RideFlux conducted a trial service of their autonomous transportation to customers. Using a self-driving Hyundai Ioniq vehicle, the 5-kilometer trial rides ran from Jeju International Airport to a local SoCar station.
After completing the eight-month test run, the company collected technological and operational data. Throughout the data gathering, the company amassed input from over 5,400 rides, amounting to more than 500 hours on the route.
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