Naver has become the nation’s first information and communications technology (ICT) company, other than automakers, to unveil its autonomous vehicle under development to the public. The company has been test-driving its autonomous car after gaining government permission to test its self-driving car on the road.
During a press conference at the Seoul Motor Show 2017 that kicked off on March 30 in Kintex in Ilsan, Gyeonggi Province, Song Chang-hyun, CTO of Naver and chief executive of Naver Labs, showed off its autonomous car and said, “Based on the ambient intelligence technology for space and mobility, we will create the world that can help human and society focus on more important thing in life rather than being fettered by tools.”
Currently, Naver is testing its Level 3 self-driving car with a person at the driver’s seat for emergency backup based on the standards of the U.S. Society of Automotive Engineers (SAE) that defines six levels from 0 to 5 regarding driving automation. The company expects to have the same automation capability with Level 4 autonomous vehicles next year.
Generally, Level 4 and higher is regarded as full automation. Naver is planning to secure the Level 4 technology by the end of next year. Song said, “Level 3 means conditional automation with near self-driving capability that requires a human driver to take control only in emergency. We think it will take about a year to enter the Level 4.”
Naver is developing a driverless car as part of its plan to develop the ambient intelligence technology, which provides exact information and services at the right time after recognizing numerous situations in life. This is a different way of approaching from on the one taken by automakers which develops autonomous cars for drivers’ convenience. Naver focuses on developing autonomous car technologies by collecting various data about drivers’ driving habits and car navigation through the self-driving technology.
The company also revealed its 3D mapping robot “M1” on the same day. While its driverless car provides useful information to users after acquiring external information, the M1 produces a detailed interior map after recognizing the internal information. In fact, the M1 demonstrated how it produces a 3D detailed map after autonomously moving around the interior space at the Seoul Motor Show.
The M1 shoots an interior space with the camera on the body and produces a 3D map suing the laser scanner in real time. It offers positional information of an interior space in where the global positioning system (GPS) doesn’t work properly. Based on the technology, Naver plans to provide information about real estate, game and advertisement.
The company’s plan to accumulate internal and external data and provide information is connected with Naver Labs’ aim to realize ambient intelligence technology. Accordingly, the research and development of autonomous car technology will not lead to car business models right away, according to Naver.
Song said, “We don’t have a plan to immediately connect our R&D in self-driving cars with business. We are researching and developing the technology in order to apply it to upcoming services in the future.” Based on it, Naver plans to research a next-generation mobility solution, like autonomous vehicle, and continuously informatize a living space by converging artificial intelligence and robot technology.