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Hyundai to try out a localized mobility service

Nov 28,2019
Hyundai Motor is starting a mobility service in Korea in partnership with local mobility start-up KST Mobility, the automaker said Wednesday.

The auto group got a temporary green light to try out a so-called community mobility service under a regulatory sandbox program by the Ministry of Science and ICT. The program enables companies to try out certain business models currently blocked by regulations under limited conditions.

The community mobility service, according to Hyundai Motor, operates in a similar way to shuttle buses, but rather than following a fixed route, KST Mobility-operated vans will craft new routes reflecting user demand using Hyundai Motor’s artificial intelligence (AI) system.

When multiple users in a certain area type in their destinations via a smartphone application, the vans will follow the optimal route to pick up customers and drop them off at their desired destinations.

Under current regulations, sharing a cab is illegal, but, the regulatory sandbox allowed KST Mobility, which runs the Macaron Taxi franchise, to try out the service using Hyundai Motor’s so-called AI dynamic routing technology.

The launch of the trial is especially meaningful as it means Hyundai Motor will be able to collect mobility data in Korea. Due to tough regulations on ride-hailing services in Korea, the automaker has mainly been investing in foreign ride-hailing companies like Grab and Ola to collect data.

“Starting with this project, Hyundai hopes to offer a range of mobility services for different types of transport companies,” the automaker, which hopes to become a mobility service provider, said in statement.

The test service will begin next year for three months in a limited area in Eunpyeong District, western Seoul, for free, with a maximum of 100 users. The carmaker and KST Mobility plan to one day operate the service with monthly subscription fees.

KST Mobility will use six 12-seater Hyundai Solati vans refurbished for taxi operations for the pilot project.

“We expect the service to be especially useful for teenagers and the elderly who tend to move short distances around their homes but have limited transport options,” a spokesperson from Hyundai said. “The service can also relieve parking problems.”

Apart from the cab-sharing model pursued by Hyundai Motor and KST Mobility, five other businesses earned conditional regulatory exemption under the sandbox program by the ICT Ministry on Wednesday.

The Science Ministry let local home-sharing platform operator Wehome test its service with a maximum of 4,000 hosts living within 1 kilometer (0.62 miles) of a subway station.

Housekeeper matching service provider Homesaeng has earned approval to directly hire 1,000 housekeepers. Homesaeng previously wasn’t allowed to directly hire housekeepers.

BY KIM JEE-HEE [kim.jeehee@joongang.co.kr]