With AFP on board, an irritated taxi driver following behind honked as the all-electric vehicle kept to the speed limit, changed lanes and had the vision to accelerate and overtake another car to ensure it had sufficient space to make a right turn.
A giant monitor in the workshop displayed its progress, relayed in real-time, complete with objects around the car and traffic signs.
For now, under South Korean law a safety driver has to sit behind the wheel, poised to intervene if necessary — they do so at least once a day on average — leaving space for two passengers.
But Park, 35, is looking to accelerate, with plans to offer ride-hailing services using three autonomous cars operating on 400 kilometers of Jeju’s major roads by the end of the year — albeit still with a safety driver.
“Our aim is to put self-driving cars without safety drivers operating in all parts of Jeju in the next five years,” he said.
Despite its trade-dependent economy, South Korea sometimes puts regulatory hurdles in the path of multinational companies.
RideFlux investor SoCar, an app-based car rental firm in one of the few countries where Uber has had to give up offering ride-sharing owing to legal restrictions, believes automated driving will be “at the center of our future business”.