Autonomous vehicle startups in Korea have seen a huge boost in recent years as major automobile companies in Korea like Hyundai are already incorporating AI and autonomous driving technology into their vehicles. They have been vital in supporting mobility startups in Korea specializing in autonomous driving technology. The Korean government has also played a role in the advancement of autonomous driving in Korea by creating a self-driving car testing facility known as K-City. K-City is located 20 miles from Seoul and it was built to accurately simulate real-life conditions for self-driving cars.

Seoul plans to carry out a $125 million project over the next 5 years to build safe autonomous driving infrastructure throughout the city. Many of the brightest entrepreneurs in Korea are focused on solving transportation issues not just in Korea but all around the world. Below are some of the top autonomous vehicle startups in Korea to watch for going forward.

Top Autonomous Vehicle Startups in Korea

ThorDrive

Korean mobility startup Thordrive

Korean mobility startup ThorDrive is a self-driving car platform that also has its own self-driving delivery service. They finished their pilot run of deploring driverless delivery vans in Silicon Valley. It is not totally driverless as there is still a safety operator in the front seat.

ThorDrive was established by key researchers from Seoul National University. They were the ones who launched Korea’s first self-driving car SNUver. They showcased their technology at CES 2019 in Las Vegas and are looking to test an autonomous shuttle to transport people across Seoul. It has raised $150 in funding from Ford and Chinese tech giant Baidu and has a current valuation of $900 million.

Partnership with E-Mart Inc.

ThorDrive partnered with E-Mart, one of the biggest big-box store chains in Korea to test out autonomous delivery vans. The autonomous delivery van will drive pre-mapped routes and a human will driver will take over driving once the van is inside the apartment building. Therefore, It will only be a matter of time before E-Mart incorporates driverless cars for delivery services in the near future.

42dot

42dot42dot is a mobility startup that focuses on autonomous transportation-as-a-service(TaaS). The startup was founded in 2019 and created a lidar-free self-driving company that developed an autonomous driving software and hardware solution called AKit. Akit uses two types of sensors such as cameras and imaging sensor radar in order to perform all aspects of sensing the environment surrounding the autonomous vehicle. Furthermore, the startup also created an autonomous mobility/logistics platform called “TAP!” that offers services such as fleet management, ride-hailing, demand-responsive transport, smart logistics, and more. In addition, these two main core solutions are expected to be commercialized in 2023.

42dot raised $88.5 million in their series A round of funding from investors such as Shinhan Financial Group, Lotte Ventures, STIC Ventures, We Ventures, DA Value Investment, and others. Previous investors included many Korean conglomerates such as Hyundai Motor, Kia Motors, LG Electronics, SK Telecom, and CJ Logistics. The investment will be used to advance its urban mobility operating system. To date, they have raised over $130 million and have a valuation of $425 million.

StradVision

stradvision

 

StradVision is a Korean AI startup that uses deep learning camera image detection technology. They aim to become the first self-driving solution company to go public in South Korea. StradVision focuses on developing advanced camera detection technology for self-driving automobiles. In addition, StradVision developed a software solution that uses deep learning to recognize people and even road signs. It is excellent at recognizing distant objects but overlapping objects. They are able to distinguish between, people, cars, bicycles, and objects. Therefore, the camera can even read movement patterns and predict safety measures in advance.

SVNet Software

SVNet is StradVision’s deep-learning camera software. StradVision currently provides level 2 technology for ADAS (Advanced driver-assistance systems. Therefore, it not only saves power but is compatible with target hardware systems.

StradVision’s SVNet Software allows vehicles to execute ADAS and self-driving functions, including:

  • Pedestrian Collision Warning
  • Pedestrian and Cyclist Warning
  • Forward Collision Warning
  • Traffic Sign Recognition
  • Lane Departure Warning
  • Intelligent Speed Assistance
  • Blind Spot Detection

Their software also allows for internal detection to ensure safe driving. These functions include:

  • Drowsiness Detection
  • Age & Gender Detection
  • Gaze Detection

The algorithm allows both internal and external technology to work at the same time. The aim is to have more than 6 million automobiles on the road using SVNet in 2021.

StradVision Raises $27 Million for their Series B Round

StadVision raised $27 million in its series B funding round led by Posco Capital. Therefore, its total funding stands at $45 million to date and is now valued at over $160 million. They are currently doing mass production projects in China and Europe. In addition, they opened a new office in Germany in February, which will allow the startup to directly assist its German automotive partners with mass production projects. Moreover, they have also partnered with global OEMs and Tier 1 suppliers. Therefore StradVision will have millions of cars on the streets using its software for autonomous vehicles and ADAS systems within the next 2 years.

“StradVision’s software solutions for Autonomous Vehicles and ADAS systems are proving successful and attractive to leading automakers and suppliers, as our latest round of funding strongly confirms. StradVision will use this funding to take our groundbreaking products to the next level as we lead the advancement of camera technology in Autonomous Vehicles,” said the CEO of StradVision Junhwan Kim.

bitsensing

Korean mobility startup bitsensingKorean mobility startup bitsensing develops products & solutions using radar technology for autonomous driving and surveillance. Furthermore, their radar has a 4D imaging system that allows for a greater area of weather detection for vehicles. Moreover, sensors are placed along roads to offer drivers early detection in regards to traffic.

They raised $5.8 million in their Pre-Series A funding round which was led by LB Investment and Mando Corporation. Moreover, they will use the funds to develop radar-based sensing technology that is not only reliable but also affordable.

“I believe receiving strategic investment from Mando Corp., a global Tier 1 automotive manufacturer, means that our technology has been recognized in the autonomous vehicle market. It will help us grow much faster,” said the CEO of bitsensing, Jae-eun Lee.

bitsensing joined the NVIDA Inception program, and the Plug and Play for Mobility and Smart cities in Japan and Thailand.

Seoul Robotics

Korean Mobility Startup Seoul RoboticsKorean mobility startup Seoul Robotics specializes in 3D computer vision AI that enables intelligent and safer mobility technology. Therefore, they work with autonomous vehicle companies to help them utilize their 3D sensors. Their aim is to create an automotive-grade 3D computer vision for lidar sensors. Seoul Robotics is a leading provider of reliable and robust Lidar Vision Software for OEMs, Tier1, and startups. In addition, they created a high-performance 3D perception software solution called SENSR to enable automotive-grade perception AI for any industry with any Lidar.

Furthermore, Seoul Robotics has raised $5 million led by the venture arm of the largest bank in Korea – KB Investment. Others included in the funding round were KDB Capital, Access Ventures, and Artesian VC which is the 3rd largest VC firm in Australia.

RideFlux

RidefluxThe top car-sharing operator in South Korea, Socar invested in RideFlux for their autonomous driving technology. South Korea will have self-driving cars on its streets thanks to RideFlux which is leading the way in South Korea in autonomous driving. RideFlux has a strong team of highly talented R&D engineers along with South Korea’s strong telecommunications infrastructure, and 5G networks. Moreover, they already have a working self-driving car shuttling customers back and forth from Jeju airport. The five-kilometer route includes a U-turn, 11 pedestrian crossings, and bustling airport traffic. Therefore, it is an optimal location to continue to develop and improve their AI systems.

SOS LAB

SOS LAB

SOS LAB is a LiDAR sensor startup that has developed a Fish eye Solid-State LiDAR sensor for commercial vehicles that can satisfy both durability and performance while enabling mass production at low costs. They have carried out projects with SK Telecom and KT. In addition, they were named CES 2021 Innovation Award Honoree.

VUERON

Autonomous Vehicle Startups in Korea

Vueron is a LiDAR perception software provider. Based on AI algorithms, Vueron has developed a high-performance, stable, and practical LiDAR perception software to identify all objects around the sensor. Their flagship product is called ViewOne which can be deployed on various automotive-qualified processors. Therefore, it can accurately detect and inform drivers of necessary ADAS and autonomous driving information such as surrounding vehicles and road information. It is the world’s first solution that was used for autonomous driving with one LiDAR sensor.

MORAI

Autonomous Vehicle Startups in Korea

MORAI is one of the few autonomous vehicle startups in Korea developing virtual testing solutions for autonomous driving systems. It provides full-stack autonomous vehicle simulation solutions that convert HD map data into digital twins. This allows for large-scale virtual simulation environments for autonomous driving systems. Virtual simulation environments offer a safer alternative to real road testing by providing a virtual testing solution to verify and validate autonomous driving systems.

Some of MORAI’s corporate clients include Hyundai Mobis, Hyundai AutoEver, and Naver Labs. In addition, in early 2022, MORAI raised $20 million for their series B round from KDB, Naver’s D2 Startup Factory, Korea Investment Partners, KB Investment, Kakao Ventures, Atinum Investment, and Hyundai Motor Group’s ZERO1NE.

Autonomous a2z

Autonomous a2z specializes in autonomous mobility solutions. Some of their services include the recognition of surrounding conditions and determination of driving conditions strategies to automatic vehicle control. Their solutions can be used across a variety of vehicle platforms and regions. Their core technology is the precise and quick localization algorithm that combines lighter high definition (HD) maps and recognition results from simultaneous signal processing from multiple LiDAR.

They have also developed an unmanned test kit that automates vehicle driving tests and an autonomous vehicle software development kit that aids in the development of autonomous driving algorithms in research institutes and schools in Korea. Moreover, the company plans to develop and commercialize special vehicles such as container trucks, tractors, and cleaning trucks in Korea.

Mars Auto

Mars AutoOf the many autonomous vehicle startups in Korea, Mars Auto is the only one dedicated to self-driving trucks. Mars Auto finished the test driving phase of its first self-driving truck back in 2019. Furthermore, the truck is equipped with a camera and a small computer. It was able to drive safely from Seoul to Busan without driver intervention. The drive lasted for 5.5 hours. By the end of 2022, they plan to launch a pilot run with 10 semi-large trucks on the expressway with the aim of commercialization in 2023.