Self-driving cars and drone development get W40B boost

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Self-driving cars and drone development get W40B boost

The Ministry of Science, ICT and Future Planning will invest a combined 40 billion won ($34 million) on the development of integrated platforms for autonomous vehicles and drones, the government’s latest bid to stay competitive with the new technology.

The ministry said on Tuesday that the focus of the funding will be on the development of comprehensive software and telecommunication platforms and parts that support autonomous cars and unmanned aerial vehicles.

“The government spent a total of 284 billion won over the last four years to support self-driving vehicle programs,” the ministry said in a statement, “but the stage of development still falls behind China and other advanced countries in terms of price competitiveness and functionality.”

The ministry said that the integrated platforms are necessary to keep ahead of the competition for autonomous driving technology, since there are different kinds of self-driving units, including unmanned vehicles, smart cars and drones.

As for the drone segment, the ministry said it will support technology related to industrial drones or those that can be used in the pubic sector, rather than smaller flying craft designed for entertainment purposes.

The government body will also provide funds to small and medium-sized tech enterprises that engage in the field.

The ministry said it will also encourage colleges and research centers to build open-source software that smaller companies can tap into to further their autonomous driving and drone-related technology.

To manage the funding, the ministry will launch a new division this month to carry out the initiative by 2019.

The 40 billion won fund is in addition to the ministry’s funding plan announced in March.

The ICT Ministry said that it will shell out a combined 973.6 billion won this year to fund the research and development of emerging technologies, including a 5G network, autonomous cars and robots. In the annual funding plan, the autonomous car segment accounts for a sizable amount, following the development of intelligent robots and 5G networking, since the area poses infrastructure and legal challenges.

The ICT Ministry allocated 51.8 billion won to build facilities and highways that it can use to test the safety and feasibility of autonomous cars. It is also pushing revisions to laws as well as new legislation to facilitate the commercialization of the cars, in cooperation with the Ministry of Trade, Industry and Energy and the Ministry of Land, Infrastructure and Transport.


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