Tue, Feb 26, 2019 - Page 1 News List

Tsai opens test ground for self-driving vehicles

TAINAN CENTER:Former premier William Lai joined the president for a ride around the new lab site in one of three locally made self-driving test vehicles

By Lin Chia-nan  /  Staff reporter

President Tsai Ing-wen waves from the back seat of a self-driving car at the Taiwan CAR Lab in Tainan yesterday.

Photo: Chien Hui-ju, Taipei Times

President Tsai Ing-wen (蔡英文) yesterday opened the nation’s first closed testing ground for self-driving cars, the Taiwan CAR (connected, autonomous and road-test) Lab in Tainan.

“Autonomous car technology is an opportunity that Taiwanese industries cannot miss,” and it is expected to help bring local vehicle component manufacturing and the entire technological industry to new heights, she said.

Following the enactment of the Act for Uncrewed Vehicle Technology Innovations and Experiments (無人載具科技創新實驗條例) last year, other traffic regulations, and financial and insurance systems are being planned, Tsai said.

Tsai and former premier William Lai (賴清德) — a former Tainan mayor — toured the lab site in a car made by the Automotive Research and Testing Center, one of three at the facility, with the vehicle easily moving around a car-shaped barrier.

The Taiwan CAR Lab covers 1.75 hectares in the Salun Smart Green Energy Science City compound and features 13 simulated traffic scenarios, the National Applied Research Laboratories (NARL) said.

The other vehicles at the lab were made by Acer Inc (宏碁) and National Cheng Kung University faculty, and they can achieve level 4 automation — high automation without human presence in specific conditions, NARL Planning and Promotion Office associate researcher Chang Lung-yao (張龍耀) said.

However, crew members are required to be on standby inside the vehicles at this stage, Chang said.

Building the Taiwan CAR Lab cost about NT$250 million (US$8.12 million at the current exchange rate) and took nine months, he said, adding that test dummies, fake motor scooters and a rain simulation would be added later.

Automated cars have to undergo testing within a closed area before they can be tested on open roads, and step-by-step progress is more suitable to Taiwan given its limited market scope, Minister of Science and Technology Chen Liang-gee (陳良基) said.

The ministry is collaborating with the European Chamber of Commerce Taiwan to ensure that the safety standards for local autonomous cars match global criteria, Chen said.

Driverless navigation is a cross-disciplinary industry that is open to students in all university departments, especially as some researchers are studying passenger behavior in such vehicles, he added.

The Office of Science and Technology is consulting with the six special municipalities about using larger autonomous buses for public transport in designated areas, which might happen next year, office Executive Secretary Tsai Zse-hong (蔡志宏) said.

A group of Cheng Kung students attended yesterday’s opening ceremony to see a model car they helped developed with Juang Jyh-ching (莊智清), a professor of electrical engineering, and other faculty members.

Integrating data collected from the vehicle’s sensing, positioning and controlling systems was the most challenging part of developing it, and their team would continue to work on improving related technology for future road testing in populated areas, the students said.

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