Kaohsiung to try out driverless buses, mulling introduction

Driverless buses are coming soon to Taiwan’s southern port city of Kaohsiung, at least on a trial basis. (photo credit: Easymile)

TAIPEI (Taiwan News)--Driverless buses are coming soon to Taiwan’s southern port city of Kaohsiung on a trial basis at least.

Two electric self-driving minibuses will begin to transport passengers who registered to try out the futuristic public transportation vehicles at the EcoMobility World Festival 2017 in October, according to Kaohsiung City Government.

The festival to promote eco-friendly transportation options will take place from Oct. 1 to Oct. 31 at the city’s Hamaxing Railway Cultural Park.

The city’s Transportation Bureau said that following the month-long eco traffic activity, the city government hopes to keep the two drivereless minibuses in Kaohsiung to provide citizens with another choice of advanced transportation.   

Kaohsiung Mayor Chen Chu has visited Paris-based self-driving electric minibus manufacturing company Easymile and public transportation company the RATP Group to learn more about the operation of driverless minibuses.

The bureau said the self-driving transportation system combines the technologies of electric vehicles and autonomous driving and the cost of installment and operation is lower that a metro system. The driverless transportation system, which is scalable to match service demands and can be adjusted to route changes, will bring about big changes in urban public transportation services, the bureau added.        

The mayor signed a MOU with Easymile and Taiwan’s tech company 7 STARLAKE on April 3 to invite the companies to introduce self-driving transportation service to Kaohsiung and participate in the EcoMobility World Festival.

Kaohsiung is a metropolitan with many suburbs, such as Asia New Bay Area, Gangshan District in northern Kaohsiung, and the Lujhu Science Park; if advanced autonomous vehicles can be introduced into the city to connect with the existing metro and public bus systems, more citizens will be encouraged to take public transportation, the mayor said.   

Easymile has promised to cooperate with Kaohsiung on developing electric self-driving minibus systems in the city and studying the feasibility of introducing them into the city’s public transportation services, according to the city government.