A South Korean autonomous driving startup has launched its autonomous driving technology in Silicon Valley, U.S.

December 3, 2018

Korea's autonomous startup company, ThorDrive (CEO: Kye Dong-kyoung), announced the start of test-driving autonomous vehicles in Silicon Valley's Palo Alto on November 29, 2018 (Thursday). ThorDrive hosted a test drive event in downtown Palo Alto on the morning of the 29th. The event was attended by Palo Alto Mayor Liz Kniss, ACE Hardware Silicon Valley President Eric Hassett, and LiDAR specialist Velodyne President Mike Jellen. The autonomous vehicles participating in the demonstration are two Ford Transit series vans.

ThorDrive's autonomous driving test in Silicon Valley is the first of its kind for a Korean company with commercial objectives. In particular, this test is in collaboration with ACE Hardware, a large retail store with over 5,000 branches worldwide. This partnership brings us one step closer to the practical implementation of autonomous driving technology in commercial settings. ACE Hardware is actively considering the introduction of delivery services using autonomous driving technology. This initiative aims to respond to the explosive increase in online orders in the future and to enhance services for senior customers who face challenges in accessing existing transportation options. ThorDrive will continue testing autonomous vehicles in the city of Palo Alto to improve the reliability of core technologies, including environmental awareness, situational judgment, and location awareness, necessary for complex urban autonomous driving. They will also focus on developing related technologies needed for the package delivery service requested by ACE Hardware.

Following the successful completion of the test drive in Palo Alto, ThorDrive is looking forward to expanding the service to other states outside of California. Additionally, they plan to introduce progressive autonomous driving services across all phases of logistics transportation.

Kye Dong-kyoung, CEO of ThorDrive, mentioned, "While the U.S. has allowed demonstration testing of autonomous vehicles on public roads since the early 2010s, and some states are beginning to offer paid services for passenger transportation and food/goods delivery, South Korea has been much slower to deregulate and develop autonomous vehicle technology. Although autonomous driving is a key technology of the fourth industrial revolution, there are few startups in Korea. The level of technology in this field lags far behind that of autonomous driving companies operating in Silicon Valley, and there are not many autonomous vehicles on the road. These are clear indications of Korea's unpreparedness for promising industries in the future. With this demonstration in the U.S., it is expected that the level of autonomous driving technology in Korea will be elevated in the future. This will be achieved by creating an environment conducive to conducting realistic autonomous driving research."

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