From left: ITRI Executive Vice President Pei-Zen Chang, Director General of DoIT, MOEA Ta-Sheng Lo, and Mobiletron and RAC Electric Vehicles Chairman Kim Tsai.
ITRI and Mobiletron launched the largest autonomous vehicle R&D project in Taiwan, which will see the introduction of ten locally made autonomous electric buses by 2021. The first of the vehicles is expected to roll off the pilot production line in the first quarter of 2020. Local bus operators will also join the project to work on self-driving verification in designated areas. This initiative involves 14 vehicle electronics manufacturers, including those involved in motors, automotive displays, system integration, sensors, geospatial information, and cybersecurity. It is hoped the collaboration will build an autonomous vehicle industry chain and help Taiwan enter the first-tier supply chain for international automakers.
ITRI Executive Vice President Pei-Zen Chang remarked that autonomous vehicles play an essential role in smart transportation and are a key component in ITRI’s 2030 Technology Strategies and Roadmap. He stressed that ITRI took the lead in developing the Surrounding Sensing Subsystem (S3). In 2018, it established the S3 Partnership Program and cooperated with Mobiletron in operating a trial shuttle system during the Taichung World Flora Exposition. “ITRI is delighted to sign this autonomous electric bus trial production agreement with Mobiletron,” said Dr. Chang. “It is expected that in 2020, we can work with local bus operators to develop commercial operation models that can generate economic value and help to shape a smart futuristic city.”
“The cooperation with ITRI is the first initiative setting the foundation for the mass production of autonomous electric buses,” said Mobiletron and RAC Electric Vehicles Inc. Chairman Kim Tsai. He pointed out that Mobiletron is the first dedicated maker of automotive electronics in Taiwan and RAC Electric Vehicles is able to produce a highly efficient six-stage automatic transmission drive system and leverage Mobiletron’s lithium battery active balance system to complete a Level 3+ self-driving bus production line in 2021. Mobiletron and RAC, he said, will also develop a smart autonomous electric bus platform that integrates ITRI’s innovation along with Taiwan’s ICT, energy storage, and key automotive components technologies, in order to target the global markets.
Dr. Tzi-Cker Chiueh, ITRI’s Vice President and General Director of Information and Communications Research Laboratories, stated that this cooperation combines the strengths of both sides. While Mobiletron is committed to developing smart, green buses, ITRI is steering what is currently Taiwan’s largest R&D project for autonomous electric buses and is developing a self-driving sensing subsystem that fits the unique needs of Taiwan and Asia. This system takes into consideration the wide variety of vehicles on Taiwan’s roads as well as the long rainy seasons. Moreover, ITRI’s V2X road safety solution iRoadSafe can be introduced through this project, setting a successful example of integrating connected vehicle technology with autonomous vehicles.
The initiative joins the forces of 14 vehicle electronics manufacturers to build an autonomous vehicle industry chain in Taiwan.
Neousys Technology, a leading manufacturer of rugged embedded wide-temperature industrial PCs, also took part in this project as an official provider of the autonomous driving sensing platform by utilizing its GPU computing platform to construct the S3 system. Other participating companies include Bluestar, Moxa, Unex Technology, Qisda, ANEST IWATA, Alpha Networks, TECO Electric & Machinery, Kingwaytek Technology, Forward Electronics, MaxWin Technology, and Whetron Electronics.