Taipei to Run Regular Self-Driving Shuttles at City Center

Taipei City, Taiwan—Taipei City Government and Turing Drive Inc. have announced the plan to operate regular autonomous driving shuttle service during off-peak hours on the dedicated bus lanes along with Xinyi Road from May, 2020.

Taipei City Government and Turing Drive Inc. (Turing Drive) have partnered and acquired the approval to execute the plan from the Ministry of Economic Affairs (MOEA), which oversees all autonomous vehicle operation in Taiwan. The official grant was issued on February 18th, and testing activities will start from May, 2020.

Taipei City Government has been promoting the development of autonomous vehicles (AVs), in the hope that AVs will serve as public transport service at mid-night, addressing the shortage of bus drivers. In 2019, the City signed an MOU with Turing Drive, which 
then proposed the plan to the Ministry of Economic Affairs, following the Unmanned Vehicles Technology Innovative Experimentation Act. Now granted by the MOEA, the one-year plan consists of three stages: 1) infrastructure preparation by April, including HD Map, roadside units enabling vehicle-to-infrastructure communications, electric charging station, and sign boards; 2) testing operation from May, during which the AV system will familiarize itself with all possible scenarios; 3) passenger service from September onwards. Shuttle service circles back-and-forth around the dedicated bus lanes on Xinyi Road, from Zhongshan S. Rd. intersection to Keelung Rd. intersection, totaling 12.3 kms in length. Safety drivers will take over at both ends as the shuttles make turns on open roads.

Turing Drive is a Taiwan-grown startup specializing in autonomous driving system development. Allied with Tron Energy Corporation, Trillion, ThinkTron, International Integrated Systems (IISI), and Metropolitan Transport Corporation, Turing Drive and the team produce 100% of the software and 70% hardware in Taiwan—an unique achievement among local players. 

During the operation, three electric autonomous driving shuttles will be deployed, including 4-meter shuttle with a capacity of 9 passengers and 6-meter shuttle that takes up to 34 passengers. At early stages, the maximum speed is set at 15 km/h, and the service operates between 00:30 and 02:30 a.m.. The maximum speed and operating hours may increase afterwards if certain conditions are met. 

Through the current plan, Taipei City Government and Turing Drive will validate autonomous driving technologies and look into the future possibilities of autonomous shuttles being a new public transport solution. It is believed that the operation will spur Taiwan’s autonomous driving industry and offer a safe and comfortable mobility alternative at off-peak hours.