상단여백
HOME Business Industry
Enjoy Your Drive with Autonomous Cars
(bizwatch.co.kr)

Roads are full of vehicles. Drivers spend hours behind the wheel each day. What if we can do things other than drive while the car is moving? Autonomous cars can save a lot of time for us. Starting from this April, autonomous buses will operate around the Cheonggyecheon area in Seoul. Therefore, the Sungkyun Times (SKT) will introduce what autonomous cars are, how they have evolved, and how they should develop in the future.

Cars without Human Drivers

History of Autonomous Cars

Autonomous cars are vehicles that run by themselves without human involvement. Ideally, they are supposed to be fully self-driving; however, those that require a little help from humans are still called autonomous cars since modern technology is not there yet. Its concept started with Francis Houdina’s American Wonder in 1926. Although the American Wonder worked by remote control, different from the mechanism of current autonomous cars, it was the first vehicle that moved by itself. Then, later in 1977, Tsukuba mechanical engineering lab developed the first actual autonomous car. It had two front cameras and drove up to 30km/h. In case of Korea, the development of autonomous cars was a bit slow. Autonomous cars were first introduced to Korea in 1993 by Han Min-hong, a professor from the Department of Industrial Engineering at Korea University. He developed KIRV-1, a military K111 car, designed to automatically drive along a particular route with two front cameras and two ultrasonic waves sensors. With the help of the sensors, American Wonder KIRV-1 could recognize pedestrians and allow computers to analyze the information which are required to control the steering wheel and braking.

American Wonder (edaily.co.kr)

Mechanism of Autonomous Cars

The Society of Automotive Engineers defines six levels of autonomous driving according to technological functions and human involvement. Currently, commercialized autonomous cars are at Level 3, and Level 4 autonomous cars will be available by 2025. Autonomous cars work by using different sensors. Cameras, radar, and Light Detection and Ranging (LiDAR) are most commonly used. A camera recognizes a target and analyzes information such as traffic signs or lights. Radar uses electromagnetic waves to measure a nearby target’s frequency, distance, and speed. LiDAR, the key to full automation, can measure distance information using a laser. Since LiDAR detects signals sensitively from certain angles, it is more accurate than radar. However, LiDAR is expensive and vulnerable to climate conditions, making it difficult to generalize. Since LiDAR is an important sensor to achieve Level 4 and 5 automation, generalizing LiDAR would be key to the industry. A famous vehicle company, Tesla, adopts seven cameras and radar to make autonomous cars with high price competitiveness. On the other hand, other companies like Hyundai Motor and Volvo Cars focus on precise detection using LiDAR and a High-definition (HD) map. It is expected that the company that uses the best combination of sensors and reaches Level 5 automation first would be the winner in this competitive industry.

Level Definition Commercialization
Level 0 No Automation Done
Level 1 Driver Assistance Done
Level 2 Partial Automation Done
Level 3 Conditional Automation In Progress
Level 4 High Automation About 2025
Level 5 Full Automation After 2025

Autonomous Cars with Infinite Possibilities

Autonomous Taxi Continuing Contact-Free Economy

Autonomous vehicles are expanding into taxi services. Robotaxi, a combination of
“robot” and “taxi,” is a new taxi service that provides autonomous cabs. In December
2018, American autonomous driving technology company, Waymo, released a commercialized robotaxi service in Arizona, the United States (U.S.), for the first time in the world. Then, in February 2022, China’s autonomous vehicle company, Auto X, overtook Waymo with about 1,000 robotaxis driving worldwide. A robotaxi began its service in Korea as well. In February 2022, Sangam-dong was appointed as a trial driving zone. Seoul collaborated with two start-ups, 42dot and SWM Mobility, to start an autonomous taxi service. The robotaxi relies on autonomous driving but can be changed to manual driving in an emergency. A safety guard always sits in the driver’s seat in order to prevent accidents. Even though robotaxis change lines and directions well, its driving becomes wild when the car drives through the crossroads or breaks into another. Moreover, robotaxis are being used for short distances only. Since safety is not guaranteed 100%, it is too dangerous for people to ride a robotaxi for long distances.

The Autonomous Taxi in Seoul (insideautonomousvehicles.com)

Autonomous Cars Providing Residential Space

With technological development, vehicles have begun to provide diverse in-car activities. Nowadays, cars are not only for driving but also enable people to experience new things, even replacing houses. In February 2022, Kakao Mobility set its goal as “Next Mobility” and announced its plans to lead the mobility industry with diverse technologies such as autonomous driving. They claimed that they would focus on changing people’s daily lives rather than its growth. For example, they introduced the concept of a futuristic car that can save drivers’ time and physical strength and allow people to do more productive work instead. Kakao Mobility suggested LG Omnipod as a sample of a futuristic autonomous car. LG Omnipod, developed by LG Electronics, is categorized as a futuristic mobility cabin, for it is both a car and a house. The interior of LG Omnipod resembles a living room of a house. It contains diverse technologies, including a huge organic light-emitting diodes (OLED) display, Artificial Intelligence (AI), a metaverse, a virtual human, camera solutions, and home appliances. Therefore, individuals can enjoy various activities there. Through this model, people can know that the development of cars is not limited to driving skills anymore.

Further Developments of Autonomous Cars

Robotaxi Driving to Distant and Diverse Places

Various people, including those who are reluctant to purchase autonomous cars, those who are unable to afford the cost, or those who are worried about safety can all get a chance to experience autonomous cars by taking a robotaxi. With the help of a robotaxi, those people can get used to autonomous cars, especially how the cars move and react on real roads. If more people experience and get accustomed to autonomous driving through the robotaxi service, it will eventually help the generalization of both robotaxis and autonomous cars. In order to achieve that, robotaxis must be given more freedom. For example, driving through another city in a long-distance is impossible now, being an obstacle to generalizing a robotaxi service. Therefore, robotaxis must be allowed to drive longer routes into different cities other than Seoul. Furthermore, autonomous cars, including robotaxis, can provide significant help to the vulnerable. If safety is guaranteed via the development of autonomous cars with Level 4 technologies, the elderly, pregnant women, or the disabled would feel comfortable with the robotaxi service. Some of them find it difficult to drive by themselves although they may have driving licenses, so robotaxis could be a great help to them. With all these efforts combined, it will positively influence the generalization of autonomous cars even further.

Unprecedented House and Lifestyle

Since the cars in the future will not only exist for driving but also housing, people might invest and purchase mobility cabin cars instead of houses. Especially for people who enjoy outdoor activities and spend more time outside, this versatile vehicle could offer a practical option. Since mobility cabin cars are autonomous, people might be able to sleep and work in a car until they reach their destination. In order to achieve that, sensors and AI should develop further to resolve the current instability. The first LiDAR made by Velodyne Lidar, a representative LiDAR manufacturing company, cost $80,000, which was very expensive. However, in 2021, its price dropped to one-tenth, reducing the cost of sensors to produce autonomous cars. Furthermore, since LiDAR has the highest accuracy and speed to catch nearby targets, autonomous cars with this sensor can understand the situation of the roads more quickly and reduce the number of accidents. If all of these developments are made, autonomous cars will become people’s new houses in the future.

The Image of LG Omnipod (naeil.com)

No one can imagine how much convenience and joy autonomous cars can bring to our lives. Our lives may turn into science fiction movies. Even though there still remains much to be done, autonomous cars are slowly getting there. The day we enjoy various in-car activities is not that far away. So, let’s imagine a wonderful future with autonomous cars.

윤지민  linda0202g.skku.edu

<저작권자 © THE SUNGKYUN TIMES, 무단 전재 및 재배포 금지>

윤지민의 다른기사 보기
icon인기기사
기사 댓글 0
전체보기
첫번째 댓글을 남겨주세요.
오늘의 주요뉴스
A Brand-New Qualification: The Micro Degree
[Campus]
A Brand-New Qualification: The...
A New Home for International Students
[Campus]
A New Home for International S...
Heaven to Hell
[National]
Heaven to Hell
Decision to Watch
[Culture]
Decision to Watch
여백
여백
많이 본 뉴스
    여백
    Back to Top