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South Korea approves first driverless car

According to Yonhap News Agency, the government has issued a temporary license place for the nation’s first self-driving car in a bid to commercialize driverless vehicles in the future.

“The Genesis prototype has a package of special devices, including cutting-edge GPS and high-tech sensors as well as apparatuses to allow it to stay within its lane and keep a safe distance from the car ahead,” Yonhap reported.

The transport ministry designated at least six routes for the Genesis over the next five years. Ministry officials require two people to man the vehicle during test drives.

South Korea is a regional powerhouse in car production with Hyundai, Kia Motors and Daewoo establishing strong presences overseas. But the country lags behind in self-driving car technology, a field dominated by Google and Tesla.

South Korea is the latest Asian country to adopt the autonomous car technology.

In Japan, Nissan is starting this year to produce self-driving cars that can maneuver crowded roads by 2020. Although there are challenges, chief executive Carlos Ghosn said Nissan will have a product that “will carry autonomous drive.”

“Obviously when you have this kind of technology, you want also the Japanese market to enjoy it as soon as possible,” he was quoted by the phys.org as saying during the New York International Auto Show last year.

The giant carmaker is reportedly tying up with NASA for a five-year plan to create a technology that would produce driverless cars. To be initially available in December, Nissan hopes to come up with various models by 2018.

Nissan and rivals Honda and Toyota are also teaming up with the Japanese government and some electronics companies to develop driverless car technology in an effort to push the country into becoming top producer of self-driving cars.

Aiming to bring down the price to $25,000 U.S., the researchers from the National University of Singapore (NUS) and the Singapore-MIT Alliance for Research and Technology (SMART) are confident that the autonomous car is safe and reliable after launching trials in 2015.

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