Taipei has but a single Easymile EZ10 driverless shuttle under testing in Xinyi District, the country's seat of finance and government power. But local entrepreneurs, like 7StarLake which is backing the pilot, see the city as a springboard to export autonomous minibuses throughout Taiwan and the whole of Asia. Taipei, and Taiwan more broadly, has much to offer as an AV test site:
First, there is an abundance of appealing AV test sites - the island nation is dotted with a profusion of self-contained communities where AVs can be cordoned off from regular traffic - "more than 150 universities and colleges, 100-plus industrial parks and 15 theme parks" according to a report by the The New York Times. Taipei alone has more than 20 such sites.
Second, Taipei's mayor is also working closely with the company to integrate AVs into future transit plans but faces hurdles gaining approval from the central government. Legislation is lagging behind but the country's politicians are hopeful that the city and the country can focus their AV efforts on public transportation initiatives.
Finally, Taiwan is already home to a massive auto parts industry, which 7StarLake wants to leverage to begin building vehicles locally under license from Easymile by 2019. "We hope to manufacture autonomous cars with more than 50 percent local content over the coming years," 7Starlake general manager Martin Ting said, according to Taipei Times. The company believes this could cut vehicle costs by as much as one-third by avoiding import tariffs.