The city government of Taipei in Taiwan has introduced the country’s first testing facility for self-driving vehicles. The 10-hectare test field will be located within the Beitou Shilin Science Park, where the local government unit is building a real road infrastructure for testing of the autonomous vehicles. The facility will be open for various testing initiatives that involve driverless vehicles, Internet of Voice, and intelligent infrastructures.
Lee Wei-bin, Information Technology Commissioner, the broader goal of the effort is to help develop smart cities, speed up the development of artificial intelligence-based transport systems, and enable the testing of various smart applications through the test fields. Despite its inherent safety issues, autonomous driving is rapidly gaining momentum in many parts of the world, and it’s not only Taipei that provides a real-world infrastructure for testing self-driving vehicles. It was reported in May last year, for instance, that South Korea was building a huge city for testing autonomous vehicles with a budget of 11 billion won, or approximately $9.7 million. The facility was supposed to occupy nearly 360,000 square meters. Called the K-City, it will be open to a wide range of companies including Samsung, SK Telecom, Naver, Hyundai, and Kia, which will all be allowed to test their self-driving vehicles in the facility. Samsung, in particular, has already been approved by the South Korean government to test the company’s self-driving cars on the public road.
Then in December last year, the Korea Transportation Safety Authority and SK Telecom announced the first 5G testing platform for self-driving vehicles in the world after rolling out the experimental infrastructure in K-City. The system uses a pre-standard 5G network that will be used to provide support to driverless vehicles so that they will be able to share and receive data with the vehicles’ intelligent platform. A control center for managing data being transferred from vehicles in real time supports the 20Gbps 5G network. Taipei’s test facility, on the other hand, is a joint effort between various stakeholders that contributed their respective expertise and technologies to make the fields possible. The participants include ACER which develops an unmanned driving platform, 7Starlake which provides driverless bus service, National Taiwan University, iAuto technology, Institute for Information Industry, the Forward Electronics/Industrial Technology Research Institute, and the Automotive Research & Testing Center.