Taiwan-US team develops driverless electric vehicle

A driverless electric vehicle developed by researchers from Taiwan and the US was launched Jan. 10 in Taipei City, a significant step forward in establishing Taiwan as a leading global provider of smart transportation solutions.

Jointly created by state-run Institute for Information Industry under the ROC Ministry of Economic Affairs and Massachusetts Institute of Technology Media Lab, the Persuasive Electric Vehicle is the first high-profile innovation project of Taiwan Air Force innovation base.

During the launch ceremony, Premier Mao Chi-kuo said the PEV will play a key role in building smart cities in Taiwan. “The project is opening the door for Taiwan industries to prepare for opportunities stemming from the Internet of Vehicles.

“This collaboration underscores the government’s commitment to transforming Taiwan into a top-flight business incubation center where the world’s most brilliant entrepreneurs can turn innovative ideas into reality.”

Also attending the event, Kent Larson, director of MIT Changing Places research group, praised Taiwan for its strong design and manufacturing capabilities, and tipped TAF to assume the mantle of a living laboratory for cutting-edge concepts.

At 2 meters in length, 80 centimeters in width and 1.8 meters in height, the 40-kilogram, lithium battery-powered tricycle boasts a top seed of 20 kph and single-charge range of 40 kilometers.

According to project leader Michael Lin, a doctorate student at MIT from Taiwan, the PEV is different from most driverless electric vehicles in that its design is based on a bicycle so as to capitalize on the country’s related industry design and manufacturing prowess.

“The vehicle collects environmental information for cloud data analysis and providing more customized and efficient services,” Lin said. “Given its compact size, the PEV can use bicycle lanes, making it an ideal transportation option in big cities.”

Lin said Media Lab will produce 50 units of the PEVs at a cost of NT$200,000 (US$6,061) each by the end of the year, with 10 sent for testing to Hamburg, Singapore, Taipei and two North American cities.

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