[BLT Insight]Autonomous driving technology in Korea

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Autonomous driving technology is gradually being realized around us. Autonomous driving technology applies sensor data and AI to achieve self-driving capabilities in vehicles and other mobility devices. Not only traditional automakers but also ICT companies are challenging this technology. Once autonomous driving technology is commercialized, industries relying on human labor, such as logistics delivery, as well as in-vehicle infotainment (in-vehicle information and entertainment technologies), are expected to take on a completely different form. The autonomous driving market is anticipated to experience rapid growth, with the related market size projected to grow from $7.1 billion (about 9.5 trillion won) in 2020 to $100 billion (133 trillion won) by 2035, a yearly average growth rate of 41%.


[Image] Difference between human driving and autonomous vehicle driving principles


Achieving Level 3 autonomous driving is the first goal towards a self-driving world. Autonomous vehicles are classified into six levels based on the degree of driver intervention and automation. Level 3 and above involve partial or full self-driving functions, only requiring driver intervention in emergencies. Level 4 does not require driver intervention even in emergencies, and Level 5 does not require a driver at all. Notably, from Level 3 and above, automakers assume legal responsibility as autonomous driving is involved.


[Image] Definitions and overview of autonomous driving levels


Mercedes-Benz is the leading automaker in this field. In 2021, Mercedes-Benz became the first automaker to receive international certification for achieving Level 3 autonomous driving. Mercedes-Benz is expected to be the first company to sell Level 3 production vehicles in the United States, with plans to apply the technology to its S-Class, AMG S-Class, Maybach S-Class, and EQS models. Domestic automaker Hyundai Motor Company is also actively developing autonomous driving capabilities, including the HDP (Highway Driving Pilot) system at Level 3. Hyundai has invested 4.3 trillion won in this effort and is conducting pilot tests for Level 4 technology.


[Image] Autonomous vehicles from Mercedes-Benz and Hyundai Motor Company


Korean companies are also actively participating in the autonomous driving market. ADUS Co., Ltd. (CEO Oh Jae-seok) has succeeded in attracting investment (Seed, undisclosed amount) due to its recognized autonomous driving solution technology. ADUS' autonomous driving solution, eADV (expandable Autonomous Driving Vehicle), is a solution easily applicable to commercial vehicles. Recognizing this technological prowess, ADUS has secured production development contracts with automakers (OEMs), achieving commercialization and establishing close partnerships with value chain partners. With this investment, ADUS plans to accelerate the rapid commercialization and advancement of eADV, driving the transition to smart ports.

[Image] Examples of autonomous driving and eADV by ADUS Co., Ltd.


Twinny Co., Ltd. (CEOs Chun Hong-seok, Chun Young-seok), a domestic robotics company, is actively developing autonomous driving technologies for logistics robots. Twinny's autonomous driving robot 'Nargo' is suitable for automating logistics transportation tasks on-site instead of relying on human labor. Recently, they have developed self-navigation guidance devices that can operate in complex environments, enabling autonomous driving technology suitable for industrial settings with many obstacles. Additionally, SWM Co., Ltd. (CEO Kim Ki-hyeok) is strengthening its technological capabilities by developing a technology that applies mutual control algorithms to improve autonomous driving simulation capabilities in virtual simulations.

[Image] Autonomous driving robot by Twinny Co., Ltd. 


[Image] Autonomous driving solution by SWM Co., Ltd.


The BLT Research Center predicts, "The autonomous driving-related market is expected to experience dramatic growth. These technological changes will present various opportunities for companies, including commercialization, M&A, and partnerships with value chain companies in the automotive industry." They added, "Securing rights to autonomous driving technologies is expected to be a good strategy."


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