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Taiwan University New Centre to Focus on AI Self-driving Technology

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Autonomous cars are the wave of the future. For that to happen, Artificial Intelligence (AI) must be harnessed along with an army of sensors and Taiwan has opened a research centre to do just that.

The National Taipei University of Technology, known as Taiwan Tech, recently launched a research centre. Established in 1912, the school is one of Taiwan’s foremost universities known worldwide.  In cooperation with the public sector, Taiwan Tech’s new tech centre focuses on research on energy, semiconductors and AI. Particularly, it will study deeper the technology behind self-driving cars.

The centre itself has been in the works for years. University President, Wang Hsi-fu, pointed out that it will become a platform for tech Research and Development (R&D) while at the same time serving as a training ground for expertise. Moreover, it shall serve as a centre for global collaboration.

Wang disclosed the centre would be a joint venture of private and public entities. State-of-the-art facilities, for one, will be furnished by a host of the university’s private partners. Such a partnership should boost the tech centre’s practical applications in its research.

Moreover, the centre will also be financed by private sector entities. One microelectronics company has committed NT$ 46 million (US$ 1.54 million) over a two-year spread. Plus, government-owned Academicia Sinica will also pitch in for funding under the industry-university initiative of the Ministry of Science and Technology (MOST).

A key technology to be studied is with regards to AI. Specifically, the private sector is interested in the research of lane-keeping technologies and adaptive cruise control, both necessary techs in the propagation of self-driving cars.

.AI becomes the driver in autonomous vehicles. The AI software integrates all the data that it receives from all the sensors attached to the vehicle. These sensors (e.g., radar sensors that monitor nearby obstacles/vehicles, video cameras to watch road signs/traffic signals, LiDar) are the eyes and ears of the car. It is up to the AI to come up with a timely decision to navigate the streets through them.

By simulation and deep learning, AI approaches a human’s ability to perceive and decide in real-time. After coming up with the right choice, AI then manipulates the car’s controls (e.g., steering, brakes) to move forward or evade as the situation may call it.

The new tech centre is in accordance with the “five plus two” industry plan of President Tsai Ing-wen where five technologies will be developed along with two additional ones. These industries are advanced manufacturing, biotech, defence and aviation, green energy and robotics as well as agriculture with a focus on achieving a circular economy.

Taiwan has gone a long way in its digital transformation. It’s safe to say its economy is a product of the advances in technology. Years ago, the island nation was not a key player in the global chip industry. Today it is the chip breadbasket of the world.


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