DRIVERLESS: Autonomous vehicles are a solution to a shortage of nighttime bus drivers, officials said, with tests being conducted on Xinyi’s dedicated bus lanes
The Taipei Department of Transportation yesterday announced that it would start road tests for autonomous buses in May and allow city residents to take part in the trial services beginning in September.
The city government is looking to automated buses as a solution to the shortage of nighttime public vehicle drivers, officials from the transportation and information technology departments told a news conference.
Following the signing of a letter of intent between the city government and Turing Drive Co last year, the company submitted to the Ministry of Economic Affairs its “trial project for uncrewed vehicles with innovative technology.”
The ministry on Feb. 3 convened a meeting to review the project and approved it on Tuesday last week.
The transportation department said it is planning to conduct road tests for autonomous buses at night on Xinyi Road, which has dedicated bus lanes, for one year.
The first phase of the project would include creating high-definition maps, installing smart devices throughout the planned route and constructing charging stations for buses, it said.
The second phase, which is to start in May, would involve engineers to test the program’s reactions to all sorts of scenarios during trial operation, it said.
The planned route is to start at the intersection of Xinyi and Zhongshan South roads and end at the intersection of Xinyi and Keelung Road, said that Chung Hui-tsun (鍾惠存), head of the transportation department’s Information and Technology Division.
- The buses would switch to manual drivers at the east and west terminals to drive the vehicles back to dedicated bus lanes, he said.
- The initial speed for autonomous buses would not exceed 15kph, with the tests being conducted from midnight to 2:30am, he said.
- The speed and time for road tests would be adjusted accordingly throughout the trial period, with trial services commencing in September, he said.
The city government is to make the final decision on whether the buses are ready for service based on data gathered during the road-test and trial-service period, Chung added.