Korea Establishes Legal Grounds for the Commercialization of Autonomous Vehicles – A New Act for 2020

Proposed by the Chair of the Land, Infrastructure and Transport Committee on April 4, 2019, the Act on Promotion and Support of the Commercialization of Autonomous Vehicles (hereinafter as “Korean Act on Autonomous Vehicles”) aims to set forward legal grounds and a legal framework for projects of domestic and foreign companies, who focus on the development of autonomous or self-driving vehicles with the goal of the successful commercialization in Korea and abroad. The aforementioned Act shall become effective one year after promulgation. We shall update the reader when more is known.

Korean Self-Driving Car Act

The Role of the Koran Motor Vehicle Management Act

The Korean Motor Vehicle Management Act provides only general regulations about autonomous vehicles, thus, the Korean government believed a more robust regulatory framework was necessary.

According to Art 2 (1-3) of the Korean Motor Vehicle Management Act an “autonomous driving motor vehicle” is “…a motor vehicle which can self operate without any operation by its driver or passengers.“ Another provision stipulates the process of obtaining limited permission for the operation of such vehicles, but this Act generally fails to establish standards for necessary safety measures and practice areas for the utilization and operation of such vehicles. Hence, the new Koreran Act on Autonomous Vehicles shall regulate these matters, starting from next year.

Major Provisions of the Korean Act on Autonomous Vehicles

According to the new Korean Act on Autonomous Vehicles, the Korean Minister of Land, Infrastructure and Transport (hereinafter as “the Minister”) shall have a few new rights and duties as mentioned below:

  • Every five years the Minister shall establish a master plan and conduct a survery for the development of a transportation logistics system, which is run with autonomous vehicles. In addition, the Minister shall draw up a master plan, which focuses on the introduction and distribution of autonomous vehicles.
  • The Minster shall choose and define sections of motorways for the usage of autonomous vehicles.
  • If city mayors and/or provincial governors receive permission to become a pilot-test zone from the Committee on Autonomous Vehicle Pilot-Test Zones (established by the Minster), the Minister shall determine details of the pilot-test zones in Korea.
  • For the support of the operation of autonomous vehicles in the appropriate sections of motorways and pilot-test zones, the Minister shall establish a “cooperative system for autonomous driving.”
  • Local governments and/or businesses, which run projects focusing on the development and/or research related to autonomous vehicles and/or autonomous driving-based transportation logistics systems, may receive financial, administrative and/or technical support from the Minister.

Korea is behind the ball on the testing of this technology and we expect that this Act shall assist in stirring more research and development by the automotive companies operating in Korea and we expect to see more government funds going into these new technologies.

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