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Taiwan Unveils Indigenous Driverless Electric Minibus

Taiwan has developed its first autonomous electric vehicle, a minibus dubbed WinBus, which is scheduled for mass production in 2021, the Ministry of Economic Affairs said Monday.

The WinBus is equipped with three positioning systems that can determine the best route on different terrain, Economics Minister Shen Jong-chin said at a press conference at his ministry to unveil the vehicle.

In comparison, self-driving vehicles produced by the American company Tesla Inc. have only one positioning system that uses cameras to identify road images, Shen said.

(Economics Minister Shen Jong-chin steps out of a WinBus.)

In addition to its superior image identification and distance detection systems, the WinBus can also navigate a route via vehicle-to-vehicle and vehicle-to-roadside facility communication signals.

Mass production of Taiwan’s competitive autonomous minibus, which has no steering wheel and can accommodate six passengers, is expected to begin in two years’ time, with a view to also exporting it to overseas markets, Shen told the press.

The vehicle was developed by a chain of local industries under the auspices of the Automotive Research and Testing Center, Taiwan’s leading transportation-vehicle testing and R&D institute, and with financial and technological support from the MOEA, Shen said.

The parts, components and systems were developed and built by more than 20 domestic companies, according to a statement released Tuesday by the ARTC, which assembled the vehicle.

The driverless vehicle meets the Level 4 automation criteria of the U.S.-based Society of Automotive Engineers, which means the WinBus can operate fully without a driver, the institute said.

ARTC president Liao Ching-chiu said the development of the WinBus can also serve as a model for the innovation of all sorts of systems, based on consumer demand.

The WinBus is scheduled to undergo a “sandbox” trial before the end of the year and enter mass production before the end of 2021, according to the MOEA.

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