Industrial Technology Research Institute (itri, ) Reports on Wed
The Industrial Technology Research Institute (ITRI, ) reported on Wednesday that their self-driving automobile had completed the fastest test it had ever been put through at Taiwan Taoyuan International Airport. This accomplishment is a result of a four-year initiative by ITRI to create autonomous shuttles for Taiwan’s international airports. The project received “at least NT$5 billion” in funding.
The Industrial Technology Research Institute (ITRI, 工研院) announced on Thursday the successful completion of the highest-speed test ever conducted on their self-driving car at Taiwan Taoyuan International Airport. The autonomous shuttle tested attained a speed of 50 kilometers per hour. The development of autonomous shuttles for Taiwan’s international airports is a part of ITRI’s four-year strategy, which calls for an investment of “at least NT$5 billion.”
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The achievement marks the fastest speed ever reached by a self-driving car in Taiwan and ranks second globally, only behind shuttles operating at Phoenix Sky Harbor International Airport in Phoenix, Arizona, according to Department of Industrial Technology Director-General Chiou Chyou-huey (邱求慧).
The shuttle is currently operating on a 4.2km circuit and is supported by 5G-connected safety systems, ensuring a secure and smooth operation, as mentioned by the spokesperson.
He stated that self-driving technology is anticipated to be expanded on open roads like expressways and motorways in the future, enabling faster speeds and more accessibility.
Taiwan has already conducted 15 test cases on open roads to explore the potential of autonomous driving.
However, there are some challenges ahead in implementing widespread autonomous driving. These include the need for relevant regulations to govern self-driving vehicles and finding technical solutions for more complex road conditions. The integration of 5G-connected smart technology at intersections is seen as a way to enhance the safety of self-driving vehicles.
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In another significant development, several self-driving vehicles recently accomplished a 1.9 kilometer trip for delivering goods in mixed traffic conditions in Hsinchu. This groundbreaking event, made possible by the Industrial Technology Research Institute (ITRI) system, involved transporting goods between two warehouses owned by HCT Logistics, a prominent delivery service provider in Taiwan.
The real-life scenario provided valuable insights into the efficiency and safety of the autonomous system, which has been successfully tested with various types of vehicles, as confirmed by ITRI. This marks a major milestone for the smart logistics industry in Taiwan.
Using this technology, HCT Logistics aims to reduce the number of items processed at its Hsinchu distribution center by 20%. With self-driving vehicles handling direct transportation between delivery sites, they expect to address the shortage of drivers and long working hours.
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Vice Minister of Economic Affairs Lin Chuan-neng () asserts in a World Economic Forum research that the booming e-commerce industry will raise the need for delivery vehicles by 36% by 2030. By 2050, it is anticipated that the autonomous driving (AD) economy would be worth an astounding US$7 trillion.
To advance AD technology, Taiwan has adopted a two-pronged approach. This involves creating the necessary infrastructure for conducting relevant experiments and investing in domestically developed technologies, including sensory and control systems.
In real-life tests of self-driving vehicles, Sales-Lentz introduced Luxembourg’s first 100% electric, self-driving shuttle buses in 2018 as part of their commitment to zero emissions, which started almost 15 years ago. Collaborating with Navya, a French autonomous vehicle manufacturer, they participated in a research project funded by the EU, conducting real-life trials of autonomous shuttles in practical environments, as shared by Mr. Hilbert.
In Taipei, Taiwan, A Brightly Painted Landscape
In Taipei, Taiwan, a brightly painted shuttle bus glides smoothly through a university campus under the shade of banyan trees, emitting only a faint hum. This autonomous public transportation has sparked excitement among residents, raising hopes that it will be fully operational within a year.
Passenger Amber Chen, accompanied by her 8-year-old son Ruey-She, shares her excitement about the prospect of riding in driverless vehicles one day.
The ongoing bus tests serve two purposes: to demonstrate the safety of the autonomous-driving technology on busy city streets and to collect data for further improvements in the artificial intelligence that guides these vehicles. Taiwan’s efforts in this field position the country as a pioneering hub for autonomous public transportation and a potential manufacturer of driverless buses, marking one of the earliest initiatives of its kind in Asia.
The bus being tested, known as the EZ10, has performed exceptionally well during trials on the campus of National Taiwan University since May. However, the true test lies in busy real-world traffic conditions, and the program’s supporters are eager to achieve this milestone promptly.
One challenge faced by the program is that despite strong backing from Taipei’s municipal government, led by Mayor Ko Wen-Je, it only has tacit approval from the central government, as confirmed by Wei-Bin Lee, commissioner of Taipei’s Department of Information Technology.
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Martin Ting, the general manager of 7StarLake, the Taiwanese company conducting the bus tests, explains that the EZ10 is well-suited for three scenarios: operating within closed campuses, following short and fixed circuits, and serving city bus routes.
Taiwan’s diverse landscape, with its 23.5 million people, over 150 universities and colleges, more than 100 industrial parks, and 15 theme parks, presents ample opportunities for implementing autonomous public transportation. In August, the EZ10 commenced late-night trials on a short stretch of Xinyi Road, a six-lane road in downtown Taipei.
Mayor Ko expressed the ultimate goal of automating the entire Xinyi Road main line, highlighting the city’s ambition for embracing autonomous transportation.
The EZ10, manufactured by the French company EasyMile, relies on GPS and eight laser sensors to navigate predetermined routes. Despite its advanced capabilities, the cost of each unit, including import taxes, stands at $550,000, nearly twice the price of a larger bus operated by a driver.