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First license plate issued for driverless vehicle trial
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Lin Chia-lung, center right, Cheng Wen-tsan, center left, and other officials, stand in front of an autonomous bus, holding placards with the logos of organizations sponsoring trials of driverless vehicles at a news conference in Taoyuan yesterday. /

The government has issued the first vehicle license plate to be used in autonomous vehicle trials since it began to enforce the Act for Uncrewed Vehicle Technology Innovations and Experiments in October last year, Minister of Transportation and Communications Lin Chia-lung said yesterday.

Earlier this month, Kinwaytek Technology Co, a subsidiary of Chunghwa Telecom Co, received the nation’s first license plate for autonomous vehicle trials.

Lin and several other government officials were yesterday invited to visit the company’s testing ground for autonomous vehicles at Taoyuan’s Hutoushan Innovation Hub.

Autonomous vehicles are the driver in the nation’s development of smart transportation systems, Lin said in an interview on the sidelines of the event, adding that local governments have been eagerly facilitating driverless vehicle development.

Industry clusters for self-

driving vehicles are emerging and the nation is seeing the preliminary results of President Tsai Ing-wen’s “5 plus 2” innovative industries policy, Lin said.

The plan focuses on the development of the five “pillar industries” — Internet of Things (IoT) technology, green energy, smart machinery, and the defense and biomedical industries — as well as high-value agriculture and a circular economy.

In addition to the innovation hub in Taoyuan, the nation has trial grounds for autonomous vehicles in Danhai New Town and near Tainan’s high-speed rail station, Lin said, adding that the ministry’s job is to ensure that the new technology can be developed in an ideal environment.

The Hutoushan Innovation Hub, which has settings to simulate a railroad crossing, an intersection and a roundabout, has also become a testing venue for other technologies, such as obstacle-avoiding robots, the Taoyuan Department of Economic Development said.

Using remote control, researchers can have a robot imitate a human walking, the department said, adding that results from the experiments help to improve driverless vehicles’ ability to avoid obstacles.

The office spaces included in the hub’s Phase 1 development plan are occupied, it said.

Taiwan Business Bank, the Small and Medium Enterprise Credit Guarantee Fund of Taiwan, and the Taiwan Small and Medium Enterprise Foundation have a joint office inside the hub to help start-ups secure bank loans, it added.

The Taoyuan City Government is working with Chunghwa Telecom on the hub’s phase 2 development plan, which is to include testing grounds for 5G systems, the department said.

A 5G system could be used in the construction of a smart traffic light, which could transmit signals to autonomous vehicles, telling them that the traffic light is turning red so that they can gradually come to a stop, it said.

Communications technology has made development of other innovative applications possible, the department added.

“The hub can attract start-ups that want to test IoT services at a relatively lower cost, thanks to the hub’s 5G facilities and supercomputers,” it said.

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