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Naver, SoftBank join forces for metaverse push

Two tech giants plan to launch mapping project for Japanese cities next year

Promotional image for Naver’s ALIKE solution (Naver)
Promotional image for Naver’s ALIKE solution (Naver)

South Korean internet giant Naver on Wednesday laid out its strategies to enter the global market with its latest metaverse technology that allows hyperconnection between the real world and virtual reality.

“We have recently joined hands with SoftBank to make an HD map of cities in Japan through our ALIKE solution. It will be an important stepping stone for Naver to bring future without borders,” said Seok Sang-ok, CEO of Naver Labs, during a press conference.

Seok added that Naver Labs will forge a trilateral partnership with Naver Cloud and SoftBank next year to launch a full-scale mapping project of cities in Japan.

ALIKE is a key technology of Arcverse, Naver’s very own metaverse ecosystem that is used in making realistic and accurate maps using 3D modeling.

It essentially makes a virtual map by using the technologies needed to create a digital twin, a virtual model accurately reflecting a physical object.

Naver expressed high hopes for the technology to be used in developing autonomous driving systems, as its artificial intelligence robots can recommend an optimal route or speed by analyzing traffic and road conditions.

“SoftBank has been aware of the importance of HD mapping. But it had hard time finding the right technology that can carry out a large-scale mapping. We believe the reason SoftBank chose to collaborate with us is that we have a top-notch technology that can make fast and accurate maps of large cities,” said Baek Jong-yoon, team leader of an autonomous driving group at Naver Labs.

According to Baek, since Naver Labs uses 3D modeling, HD maps are cost-efficient because they only need partial revisions instead of making a whole new map from scratch.

Starting with Japan, Naver Labs will further step out into other global markets.

“Europe is most likely to be our next partner since our affiliate, Naver Labs Europe, is in France. It has already made investments in the local companies, so it will be easy to start projects with them,” Seok said.

Naver will continue to carry out projects in the country as well. It has recently completed an HD map of Gangnam, one of the most vibrant and posh districts in Seoul, after carrying out a 3D modeling project of the city last year.

Naver has also received permission from the Ministry of Land, Infrastructure and Transport for autonomous driving within the country.

“The one and only purpose of Arcverse is to transform our living spaces to service platforms,” Seok said. “With key technologies of Arcverse, we will bring a better future for our clients.”

By Byun Hye-jin (hyejin2@heraldcorp.com)
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