TAIPEI – Taiwan has begun conducting road tests for a self-driving bus in the hopes of introducing autonomous shuttle vehicles to enclosed areas such as school campuses, airports and industrial parks.
The test, which started overnight Monday on a closed off street in the Taiwanese capital, will run from 1:00 to 4:00 am for five days to allow the vehicle’s computer to map the road and familiarize itself with road conditions and learn to react to potential incidents.
Dozens of Taipei City government officials and reporters, including an epa journalist, were in attendance as the mini bus, the French-made EZ10, was unloaded from a truck to begin its trial.
Safety concerns commonly associated with automated, driverless vehicles should not apply to the EZ10, which is only initially intended for use in designated and controlled areas, such as industrial estates, university campuses or the grounds of a major sports event.
The bus will not use regular streets congested by cars, motorbikes and pedestrians, although manufacturers hope that automated public buses could one day become a reality.
“We want to introduce it to closed off areas as a community or shuttle bus. Maybe in future, it can supplement the bus service,” Ting Yen-yun, manager of 7Starlake Co, which introduced the bus to Taiwan, told reporters.
7Starlake needs to conduct more tests and obtain government approval before launching the self-driving bus.
The EZ10 can hold up to 12 passengers – six sitting and six standing – and runs on a battery.
The bus can drive at a maximum speed of 40 kilometers per hour for up to 14 hours on a single charge, according to French company Easymile which designed the bus.
The company says it already has fleets of the EZ10 operating in Europe, North America, Asia and Australia.