The developer of South Korea's first self-driving taxi called "SNUber" running on a university campus is ready to stage a trademark war with US cab-hailing app operator Uber.
SNUber is the abbreviated English name of SNU Automated Drive, and a Seoul National University (SNU) team used its Korean name "스누버" (pronounciate as snoober) for an app-based self-driving taxi unveiled in November 2015.
Due to Uber's complaints, the SNU team abandoned the English name for the autonomous car and filed to trademark the Korean name. However, Uber has sent a certified request again to ban the Korean name and threatened to launch a legal battle, according to team leader Seo Seung-woo.
Seo has rejected Uber's request, saying his team is ready to fight back in court. SNUber has been tested on the campus to help disabled students, traveling at a maximum speed of 30 kilometers (18 miles) per hour due to the school's speed limit.
Seo unveiled an upgraded version in November last year, using Hyundai Motor's Genesis sedan mounted with cameras, laser scanners, high-end sensors, and a ride-hailing app. For use in public traffic, Seo plans to test the next model SNUVi in the streets this year.
Competitions is growing to develop an autonomous vehicle capable of driving around by itself. Uber and other tech firms seek to fully automate car-sharing services so that users can pick up reserved vehicles from designated parking lots and return them at another place.
Uber launched its UberX service in Seoul in 2014 but it was suspended due to protests from taxi drivers and city official. In January 2016, Uber came back with its luxury sedan service that allowed users to book premium taxis through a smartphone app