Seoul to become first global city to use 5G network in public transit

PHOTO: AFP

Following hype over how to incorporate the fifth-generation network into autonomous driving since the network began commercial service here last month, the initial step toward the futuristic goal is expected to take off in Seoul later this year.

South Korea's biggest mobile carrier SK Telecom and Seoul City government said Thursday they have agreed to develop 5G-based maps for self-driving. By the second half of this year, 1,700 vehicles will be used to create a map by providing real-time updates of the traffic system, they said.

The agreement is expected to help Korea gain an edge in 5G technology and autonomous driving. Officials said if the plan is implemented as scheduled, Seoul would become the first global city to use the 5G network for public transportation.

"Live updates of high-definition maps will lay the ground for a new industry, such as smart mobility," said Ko Hong-seok, who manages the traffic system in Seoul. "By enhancing co-operation with the local government, we will help Seoul lead other global cities in future transportation."

The announcement comes as part of the mobile carrier's efforts to develop advanced network infrastructure for autonomous driving. Last month, SKT signed an agreement with the Incheon Free Economic Zone to develop 5G-based self-driving infrastructure.

The sophisticated map system in Seoul will be based on traffic information of 12 crowded streets, stretching up to 121 kilometres. After creating the map, SKT said it will work with the government to verify its accuracy.

To make the map with "centimetre-level" accuracy, the Seoul city government will deploy 1700 buses and taxies on the roads later this year. Equipped with "Advanced Driver Assistance System," the selected public transport suystems can update traffic information in real time.

Unlike the previous Global Positioning System, ADAS allows drivers to "communicate" with other vehicles and objects on the roads, SKT said. It can help drivers commute safely by detecting potential hazards and warnings using such information automatically.

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