Tsai attends opening of Taiwan's first self-driving car test site

The president hosted an inauguration ceremony Monday alongside former premier William Lai

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President Tsai at the test center in Tainan

President Tsai at the test center in Tainan (By Central News Agency)

TAIPEI (Taiwan News) — President Tsai Ing-wen and former premier William Lai (賴清德) attended the opening ceremony of Taiwan’s first intelligent driving vehicle test center on Monday.

The president and former premier hosted the event this afternoon, during which they toured the new center. Tsai then went on to attend the inauguration of a new building at National Jiao Tong University’s Tainan campus.

Following its recent completion at Shalun Smart Green Energy Science City in the southern city of Tainan, both Tsai and Lai got to experience the test track first-hand and were taken for a ride in one of the center’s unmanned cars.

The center cost a total of NT$2.72 billion (US$88.5 million) in construction, UDN reports. The testing area covers roughly 1.75 hectares and facilitates the simulation of driving at low speeds of between zero and 30 km/h.

It is designed to be used by smaller vehicles, including medium-sized buses.

Tsai said during her speech at the event that to promote co-development in the field of self-driving vehicle technology between Taiwan and the world, the Legislative Yuan in December passed an act to allow the provision of sandbox testing and research environments for unmanned cars.

Minister of Science and Technology Chen Liang-gee (陳良基) said this is Taiwan’s first closed test arena for unmanned vehicles, and includes simulated streetscapes, railroad crossings, tunnels and parking spaces. The idea was to shrink Taiwan’s urban and suburban environments into a site that could provide a comparable driving experience to the real world, he commented.

Tainan mayor Huang Wei-cher (黃偉哲) praised the central government for demonstrating its inter-ministerial coordination abilities, which ensured the entire project was completed in just nine months.