Hsinchu City is planning to launch Taiwan’s first test program for driverless logistics vehicles, the Ministry of Economic Affairs said yesterday at an event to announce a collaboration among the ministry, the Industrial Technology Research Institute (ITRI, 工研院) and HCT Logistics Co (新竹物流).
The test program is to use 5-tonne trucks and travel 1.9km in some of the busiest traffic in Hsinchu City, the ministry said.
Driverless vehicle technology developed in other countries is not suitable for the circumstances and lane divisions found on local roads, such as the numbers of scooters and their allocations at stop lights, ITRI president Edwin Liu (劉文雄) said, adding that ITRI is filling the need for local development of the technology.
Photo: Hung Mei-hsiu, Taipei Times
“ITRI’s self-driving technology is specially designed for the traffic conditions of Taiwan and Asia. We have already overcome the challenges of mixed car and scooter traffic and the long rainy season,” Liu said.
This particular project is the first driverless pilot program to utilize vehicles for warehouse logistics, and the first to explore the burgeoning logistics market.
“HCT moves more than 450,000 parcels in the Greater Hsinchu area every month,” company president Pablo Lee (李正義) said yesterday. “After we successfully introduce self-driving technology, our first goal is to reduce traffic at our logistic center by 20 percent.”
The company also expects that the development of the program would help solve driver shortage problems and reduce driver workload, Lee said.
The ministry said that all self-driving vehicles are still in the testing phase, with full commercialization “still in the future.”
The testing of self-driving vehicles on public roads among regular traffic was made possible when the Unmanned Vehicles Technologies Innovative Experimentation Act (無人載具科技創新實驗條例) was passed in 2018. Before that, there was no legal framework to test driverless vehicles in open traffic.
Although there are vehicles in Taiwan with some degree of self-driving capability, drivers are only allowed to deploy the technology for assistance.
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