Seoul, SKT to add 5G to transport system

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Seoul, SKT to add 5G to transport system

Sensors on roads will be able to alert cars when people are jaywalking and bus stops will tell buses to slow down in crowded areas when Seoul’s 5G infrastructure is ready, the city’s government and SK Telecom said in a joint statement Thursday.

The Seoul Metropolitan Government and SK Telecom have teamed up on an initiative called the Cooperative-Intelligent Transport System, an upgrade of the current transportation system in Seoul. The pilot program will run until the end of 2020 with a budget of roughly 25.4 billion won ($22.6 million).

Seoul already has a digitized public transportation system with signboards at bus stops telling passengers when the next bus is coming and whether it is crowded, and T-Money cards that enable people to transfer between various means of public transportation with little additional cost. The city aims to use 5G to make that transport system even safer.

SK Telecom will supply 2,000 5G devices for buses, taxis and traffic signal controllers so they can connect with the 5G network. The mobile carrier said the devices will be co-developed with Samsung Electronics.

Buses and taxis installed with 5G will constantly share data with bus stops, traffic lights and other traffic infrastructure. SK Telecom and the Seoul government will look for dangerous situations by analyzing the shared data to prevent accidents. As SK Telecom operates the country’s largest navigation app - T Map - the carrier said it will send out warnings through the app to reach the largest number of drivers possible.

SK Telecom said there are about 30 safety services the 5G-based transportation system can offer.

Roads installed with 5G sensors can detect jaywalkers, the mobile carrier said. While cars may have difficulty spotting people in the dark or during bad weather, 5G-connected sensors will alert nearby cars and prevent accidents. In 2017, 9,590 accidents were caused by jaywalkers, the largest cause of road accidents for pedestrians, according to data from the Korea Road Traffic Authority.

The country’s largest telecom company also said 5G connectivity between cars can prevent secondary accidents by sending warning messages to following cars when an accidents occur in areas with poor visibility, such as around a corner or a bend in the road.

As well as partnering on safety services, Seoul and SK Telecom are also preparing to jointly establish an autonomous driving test-bed in Sangam-dong, western Seoul, by the first half of this year. A self-driving vehicle will run back and forth between Digital Media City Station and buildings in the area. The SK Telecom-operated autonomous vehicle will begin running in the area from June at the earliest.

“The Cooperative-Intelligent Transport System project is a futuristic business that combines state-of-the-art digital technologies, like 5G, autonomous driving, artificial intelligence (AI) and the cloud,” said Ryu Young-sang, an executive vice president of SK Telecom. “We hope to offer a range of traffic safety data to Seoul citizens using 5G and reduce traffic accidents.”

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