Autonomous driving industry taking shape in Taiwan

Bryan Chuang, Taipei; Ines Lin, DIGITIMES Asia 0


Taiwan's Ministry of Science and Technology (MOST) has extended funding for projects developing self-driving technology.

MOST in December 2018 launched the Self-Driving Subsystem Key Technology Research & Development Project, which will be due in July 2022. But the ministry has decided to extend the project beyond August 2022.

Funding over 100 self-driving projects in 2 years

Taiwan-based automakers such as Foxtron, China Motor, RAC Electric Vehicles, and Green Transit Company have been involved in developing self-driving technologies. Tung Thih Electronic, Chimei Motor, Whetron Electronics, oToBrite, Turing Drive, Kingwaytek, and Mobiletron now make cars and automotive electrical systems, according to MOST.

In the government sector, MOST Department of Engineering and Technologies, the Ministry of Economic Affairs (MOEA) Department of Industrial Technology, and the Ministry of the Interior (MOI) have announced various funding plans to encourage academics to explore the areas that are yet to be charted by industry players.

Over the past two years, Taiwan's government has funded over 100 projects related to autonomous driving technology, involving numerous government affiliates, such as the Automotive Research & Testing Center, the Industrial Technology Research Institute, the Metal Industries Research & Development Center, and National Chung-shan Institute of Science and Technology.

They aim to develop world-leading technologies for cooperative positioning tech (with 10cm resolution), SAE Level 4 driving automation, and smart control and trajectory tracking (with a margin of errors by 20cm), sources said.

The government spent about NT$115 million (US$3.93 million) on related projects, while Taiwan CAR Lab - a task mission for managing an autonomous driving testing site in Tainan under National Applied Research Laboratories - requires more than NT$50 million in maintenance costs a year.

While the science ministry's Self-Driving Subsystem Key Technology Research & Development Project has a funding cap of NT$12 million per project every year, it is already viewed by academics as a quite big project.

National Yang Ming Chiao Tung University's Institute of Electronics and Department of Photonics, National Central University's Department of Electrical Engineering, National Cheng Kung University's (NCKU) Department of Electrical Engineering, and National Sun Yat-sen University's Department of Photonics have tapped into autonomous driving tech research.

The MOI has funded NCKU Department of Geomatics to study high-resolution positioning as the technology is indispensable for driverless cars.

Taiwan's legislature in 2018 passed the Unmanned Vehicles Technology Innovative Experimentation Act. In 2021, the cabinet approved a plan for promoting six core strategic industries, including two plans to develop next-generation automotive electronics and 5G-assisted smart transport tools. It aims to spur developments in key automotive subsystems and modules, as well as car-grade ICT products for smart cars.

The MOEA in 2022 budgeted NT$16.23 billion for tech-related projects - about 78.62% of its planned expenditure for the year. Part of the budget will be spent on a new project on next-generation automotive electronics and their verification platforms.