In order to respond to the growing trends in autonomous vehicle technology, the Taiwan Legislative Yuan passed The Unmanned Vehicle Technology Innovation Experiment Regulations (Regulations) on 19 December 2018. The Regulations, by nature a regulatory sandbox law for unmanned vehicles, provide a testbed for innovative experimentation to advance the development of unmanned vehicle technology, especially autonomous cars, and to free unmanned vehicles from limits under the existing regulations to facilitate the test runs. Although the effective date for the Regulations is pending an announcement from the Legislative Yuan, it is widely expected that the Regulations will unleash momentum in Taiwan’s autonomous vehicles industry and greatly enhance the progress of the relevant technology.

Highlights of the Regulations

1. The Regulations will be applicable to all kinds of industry, academia or research institutes that conduct innovative experiments on the technology and operations of unmanned vehicles under certain conditions, following approval.
2. Once approved, people who are testing unmanned vehicles will be exempt from following certain obligations stipulated under the existing regulations. For example, the vehicle inspection and driver's license requirements under the Highway Act will not be mandatory for autonomous vehicles.
3. Although autonomous cars are presently attracting the most attention, under the Regulations, an "unmanned vehicle" can include 1) autonomous cars, 2) drones, 3) autonomous boats or 4) other unmanned autonomous vehicles, which are equipped with technologies and/or systems for detection, positioning, monitoring, decision-making, and self-control.
4. The Applicants must prepare and submit their application letters, innovation experiment plans, etc., to the competent authority, the Ministry of Economics (MOL), for approval, who will review and decide whether to approve the application within 60 days following the receipt of complete application documents.
5. The Regulations generally grant a one-year period for the unmanned vehicle innovative experiments, with the possibility of granting a one-year extension if necessary. Under certain conditions, the experimental period can be extended to a maximum of four years.

Highlights of Taiwan’s Developments in Unmanned Vehicles

Taiwan has long been known for its strong high-tech industry. After the promulgation of the Regulations, it is now gearing up for autonomous cars and expects to become a pioneer in the burgeoning autonomous transportation field. We highlight the relevant developments below:

1. Taiwan's government has set out a plan and proceeded to prepare for the advent of the autonomous vehicle era throughout Taiwan.

The development of autonomous cars has been included in the "Plan for the Development of a Smart Transportation System" prepared by the Ministry of Transportation and Communications. Based on this Plan, Taiwan's government has started to prepare for the advent of the autonomous vehicle era throughout Taiwan.

Since 2017 and 2018, as many as 10 local governments in Taiwan have been collaborating with domestic and overseas autonomous vehicle developers to conduct autonomous vehicle tests on certain closed routes at safety-oriented times of day. For example, EZ10 self-driving minibuses, which were manufactured by the French company EasyMile, have been tested during late-night services in Taipei City

2. Taiwan's government is organizing a national team for the development of the autonomous vehicles.

After the promulgation of the Regulations, Chunghua Telecom Co., Ltd. (CHT), the largest telecommunications company in Taiwan, announced that CHT will be collaborating with Singapore Technologies Engineering Ltd. to establish a national team for the development and innovation of autonomous vehicles.

3. Various high-profile domestic and international players have joined Taiwan's autonomous vehicles market.

So far, the domestic companies and research groups that are focused on autonomous vehicles include the government-sponsored Automotive Research and Testing Center, Acer, and Yulon Group. Foreign autonomous vehicle developers include Navya SAS, EasyMile, 2getther, 7Starlake, and LINKAY.

4. Taiwan will be well-positioned in the autonomous vehicle industry.

Autonomous vehicles are expected to revolutionize transportation, and it is believed that Taiwan will be well-positioned in autonomous vehicle development due to its experience in supplying high-quality components for electronic devices. ICT companies in Taiwan are now looking for opportunities related to the potential demand for components and technologies for autonomous vehicles and are actively joining the supply chains for autonomous car production.

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