TAIPEI (Taiwan News) — Tainan City began testing self-driving bus routes in the Southern Taiwan Science Park on Sunday (Aug. 9).
During the initial testing phase, the autonomous buses will not carry any passengers, but they are expected to begin transiting people in the second phase of testing sometime during the fourth quarter of this year, according to CNA. The Tainan City Government held a launch ceremony Sunday morning, with Tainan Mayor Huang Wei-cher (黃偉哲), National Development Council Minister Kung Ming-hsin (龔明鑫), and Science and Technology Minister Wu Tsung-tsong (吳政忠) in attendance.
According to the city’s transportation bureau, the self-driving buses will initially be tested on two routes. The first route will run on weekends between Nanke Station and the Museum of Archaeology, while the second will operate on weekdays at the Shalun Smart Green Energy Science City.
Each autonomous bus is equipped with six cameras and four optical radars, and the vehicles' artificial intelligence (AI) systems can communicate with various roadside sensors along the test routes in order to evaluate road conditions in real-time. The self-driving buses will be tested at three different speeds: 20, 30, and 40 kilometers per hour.
According to current regulations, all the buses being tested must have a human driver behind the wheel to take over in case of an emergency. The plan is to begin passenger tests after three months of testing without any passengers, CNA reported.
After the second phase of testing, the Tainan government hopes to find a bus company to take over the operation of the autonomous buses, with the goal of having them ready for commercial use at some point in 2021.