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Taiwan, Hungary Form Tech Partnership in Self-driving Vehicles

Taiwan and Hungary have joined forces to promote autonomous vehicle testing, with Taiwan’s chip industry seen as bringing added value to the partnership. Taiwan’s National Applied Research Laboratories (NARL) and Hungary’s Innovation Hub signed a memorandum of understanding (MOU). Taiwan’s first closed proving ground for self-driving vehicles, inaugurated in Tainan’s Shalun Smart Green Energy Science City in February, is managed by Taiwan CAR Lab, an affiliate of the NARL.

Hungary sees potential benefits in cooperating with Taiwan. To begin with, the two sides would exchange simulation technologies and learn from the different traffic circumstances in each country. For example, there are millions of scooters in Taiwan, a different setting from Europe.

To establish a sound research financing scheme, the two sides plan to improve cooperation between Taiwan’s Ministry of Science and Technology and Hungary’s Ministry for Innovation and Technology, and likely the Hungarian Academy of Sciences.

They also hope to involve the Taiwan Semiconductor Research Institute (TSRI), another unit of the NARL, as well as industrial partners developing chip and sensory technologies. Taiwan has a traditionally very strong chip industry. Chips are appearing in more and more solutions or components for self-driving vehicles using sensory systems, processing units, computers and so on, so this could also be an added value from the Taiwanese side. Signing the MOU is a milestone and the signatories hope to identify one or two concrete projects next.

Previously, Taiwanese firms that planned to sell their products to Europe had to send components there for tests and retrieve them before further recalibration in Taiwan. Through the cooperation, Taiwan would have early access to new EU legislation, allowing local firms to save costs and time when developing new automotive components.

Research teams from National Cheng Kung University, a tech company and the Industrial Technology Research Institute also tested their components and cellular vehicle-to-everything technologies at the proving ground in Shalun area. The lab documents the tests and produces reports for users, and offers discounts to users who want to share derivative data.

In Taiwan, public transport vehicles remain the staple of self-driving vehicles under development, as the cost of developing autonomous passenger vehicles is not yet affordable for individual consumers. Before autonomous vehicles can enter real-world settings, the transport infrastructure, such as traffic signals, should be digitised.

Self-driving vehicles could be envisioned as “smartphones on wheels,” so researchers develop autonomous vehicle chips and systems based on their research and development (R&D) experience in mobile and consumer electronics.

The division a few years ago started providing simulation software for vehicle testing and is working with a local university to develop key technologies related to autonomous vehicle chips, as part of the government’s policy to focus on artificial intelligence chips.

Smart mobility, smart healthcare and smart living would be the three main pillars of research and development at the facility and Shalun would become a stronghold of technology development in southern Taiwan.

Taiwan has been collaborating with many countries, including Lithuania in the semiconductor industry. As reported by OpenGov Asia, Taiwan plans to set up a semiconductor task force for Lithuania as the two nations join hands to develop alternate supply chains which have been disrupted by the global spread of coronavirus. The Baltic nation wants to achieve greater sovereignty in developing regional semiconductor supply chains and expand its manufacturing capacity.

Through these collaborations, Taiwan is also looking to leverage Lithuania’s global leadership in laser technologies. Taiwan is focused on building alternate supply chains for semiconductors. He said that his country will begin with training programmes for Lithuania and simultaneously build up cooperation in other sectors of semiconductor technologies.

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