South Korea will build smart expressways for electric vehicles and driverless cars by 2020, the government has announced.

The government will invest US$33.1 billion in the project, and will raise another US$31.3 billion through private sector investment. The government will also roll out tax cuts to encourage purchase of electric vehicles.

The country has joined a global race to commercialise autonomous cars. It began the first trials on public roads in March with carmaker Hyundai, and plans to have them on the road by 2020.

The new highway network will be adapted to driverless and electric cars. It will have smart toll systems that will not require cars to slow down or stop at booths. The traffic will be monitored through an intelligent transportation system to ensure the safety of driverless cars. It will also have charging stations for electric vehicles at key junctions.

South Korea will also develop sensors and other autonomous technologies, and cut red tape to get driverless cars on the road, presidential spokesman Min Kyung-wook said last year.

Elsewhere in Asia, Singapore plans to have driverless minibuses as part its public transport, which commuters will be able to order on-demand. It began trialling driverless tech on public roads last year. The first commercial fleet will be out in 2018, with island-wide deployment by 2020.

Japan also began testing driverless cars this year with Toyota, with a goal to help its growing elderly population stay behind the wheels. The government has committed $16.3 million a year to build maps and other technologies required to have driverless cars on the road by 2020, according to the Wall Street Journal.

Image by Emmanuel DYAN, licensed under CC BY 2.0