In preparation for a future where autonomous technology will be embedded into our day-to-day lives, South Korea will open K-City this October. K-City will be the world’s largest testing bed for self-driving cars, encompassing 88 acres (3.8 million square feet) where self-driving car developers can run and repeat their tests in an autonomous-friendly environment designed to help the vehicles experience various road environments and scenarios.
The $17 million project features a mock city furnished with suburban roads, bus-only lanes, expressways, and zones for autonomous parking, among other things. Tests on expressways will start in October, however the rest of the city’s road tests will launch by mid-2018.
The opening of the K-City aims to provide assistance to developers by offering a testing ground as large as a city. Self-driving cars can be tested there with or without the temporary operation permit from the government. A large number of South Korean companies, such as SK Telecom, Naver and Samsung Electronics as well as manufacturers like Hyundai Motor Company and Kia Motors, are expected to gather in the area to refine their technology and services.
Some experts have suggested that the government should also include automotive technology startups in the testing arena because self-driving car development requires an optimal combination of communications, software and mobility services. Experts also pointed out that the K-City should be equipped with more professional engineers and platforms for self-driving data recording and sharing because the data that would be collected there could be utilized for car insurance, urban planning and other areas beside self-driving car development.
In 2015, The University of Michigan built a 32-acre (1.3 million square-feet) mock city for the same purpose. Just like K-City, at Michigan’s Mcity, automakers can test autonomous vehicles with zero risk to the public. Mcity offers a closed system where the cityscape and roads are built up to identical standards to the ones applied in the real world.