CHANGHUA – Taiwan’s first indigenously developed self-driving electric minibus began a test service July 15 in the central county of Changhua, marking a major milestone in government efforts to spur the country’s smart transportation sector.

Locally developed autonomous vehicle WinBus stands ready to commence trial service July 15 outside ARTC headquarters in central Taiwan’s Taichung City (Source: Taiwan Today)

According to Taiwan Today, WinBus is the first autonomous minibus developed since the introduction of the Unmanned Vehicles Technology Innovative Experimentation Act. Promulgated in late 2018, the law seeks to create a stable environment conducive to R&D and commercial application of related technologies.

The vehicle was designed and produced under the supervision of ARTC, with 90 percent of its control systems, components and parts developed locally, the organization said, adding WinBus can accommodate 15 passengers and run at a maximum speed of 50 kilometers per hour for at least 70 km on one charge.

During the first stage of testing running through Dec. 31, the bus will be used to provide shuttle services connecting four tourism factories in Changhua Coastal Industrial Park along a one-hour, 7.5-km route. If successful, more services will be introduce to extend the travel distance to 12.6 km, according to Changhua County Government.

Set to stop at many cultural sites and popular attractions such as Lugang Mazu Temple, the expanded WinBus service is expected to provide a welcome boost for local tourism as Taiwan settles into the post-pandemic new life, CCG said.

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