Industrial Tech. Research Institute unveils Taiwan's first driverless bus

TAIPEI (Taiwan News) – Taiwan's Industrial Technology Research Institute (ITRI) on Monday, July 2 unveiled Taiwan’s first self-driving bus.

The new medium sized bus represents the integration of three cutting edge technologies including advanced driver assistance, vehicle networking, and AI deep learning. After the vehicle finishes its testing phases, it is expected to be showcased to the public at the upcoming Taichung Flora Expo in November.

During a test-run as part of the unveiling, the medium sized bus completed four test scenarios. The first was successfully navigating the turns and safely maneuvering in straight lines around a parking lot.

The second task involved being able to accurately identify nearby vehicles, even in rainy conditions. The third test was safely stopping at red-lights as a result of learned behavior.

The final test was the vehicle's ability to demonstrate abrupt braking in order to avoid striking pedestrians or suddenly appearing objects. The vehicle can reportedly safely reach speeds of up to 60 km an hour and its sensory capabilities are said to be unaffected by dark conditions or when passing through tunnels.

ITRI hopes that the technology that went into the development of the self-driving bus will go a long way in strengthening domestic auto-manufacturing in Taiwan, and in setting a new quality standard for self-driving vehicles.

The head of the ITRI’s Information and Communication Research Laboratories (ICL), Tzi-Cker Chiueh (闕志克) was quoted in the press release as saying that promoting the technology for driverless vehicles is an excellent opportunity for Taiwan.

Chiueh said that the real key to the success of the self-driving vehicle is in the “deep learning system” of the machine, which is constantly using various sensory systems to study its surroundings and learn from experience to improve performance. The ITRI developed an S3 system “Surround Sensing Subsystem” which allows the vehicle to reason and problem solve based on its perception of its immediate surroundings.

The project was supported by the Ministry of Education and is the result of a joint effort in research and development by ITRI, Mobiletron Electronics Co., RAC Electric Vehicles Inc., X-by-Wire tech start-up iAuto, and National Taiwan University.

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