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TURING Drive Taps Velodyne Lidar for Autonomous Driving Development
May 28, 2020 | By Jane Maynard, Digital Marketing Manager

Interview with Stephen Liu, Director of Business Development of Turing Drive

TURING Drive's 4-meter OPAL Shuttle Bus Picking Up Passengers
TURING Drive’s 4-meter OPAL Shuttle Bus Picking Up Passengers at a bus stop

TURING Drive, named in honor of artificial intelligence visionary Alan Turing, is focused on autonomous driving system development and applications. Its founding members were previously a project team that developed Taiwan’s first self-driving electric bus.

TURING centers its autonomous driving technologies on artificial intelligence, from deep-learning to sensor-fusion, from perception to decision-making, and from route planning to control-by-wire acumen.

Currently, TURING operates an autonomous vehicle shuttle service in projects sponsored by the Taiwan government. The company has also been commissioned by private entities to retrofit commercial vehicles to add self-driving capabilities, harnessing the firm’s autonomy and system integration expertise.

To learn more about TURING Drive, we connected with Stephen Liu, Executive Director.

TURING Drive's Autonomous Shuttle Fleet, including 6-meter SAPPHIRE and 3-meter OPAL buses, with Velodyne Puck lidar sensors
TURING Drive’s Autonomous Shuttle Fleet, including the 6-meter SAPPHIRE and 3-meter OPAL buses, all equipped with Velodyne Puck lidar sensors

Q: Let’s look at the self-driving solutions developed by TURING. Can you tell us about your company’s autonomous shuttle service?

Liu: TURING Drive Inc. was the first company to develop a self-driving electric bus in Taiwan in 2018. We specialize in the three critical technologies for autonomous vehicles (AV), namely sensor fusion, AI deep learning, and control by wire.

TURING Drive is the only AV developer in Taiwan that is 100 percent funded by the private sector. We provide an affordable autonomous driving kit applicable to various special-purposed vehicles and shuttles.

TURING has developed seven autonomous shuttles in collaboration with its shareholder, Tron-e, an electric bus manufacturer in Taiwan. Three of them are 4 meters long with a capacity of 11 passengers. Two of them are 6 meters long with a capacity of 20 (standing and seated). All of these purpose-built, wholly electric shuttles are being deployed in three projects.

  • Lihpao Land Amusement Park in central Taiwan (July 2018-June 2020), which provides regular passenger service on five routes in a confined area using both the 4-meter and 6-meter vehicles.
  • Taoyuan MRT Depot (September 2019-May 2020), which provided regular passenger service around the train depot in a confined area using one 6-meter shuttle.
  • Taipei City bus lane (May 2020-February 2021), which provides passenger service at midnight on weekdays along with dedicated bus lanes in downtown Taipei. Both 4-meter and 6-meter shuttles will be used.

To date, TURING’s shuttles have travelled 18,000 km and served 57,000 passengers since 2018.

In addition to shuttle buses, TURING has been commissioned to develop low-speed autonomous vehicles and a fleet management system.

TURING Drive's 6-meter SAPPHIRE autonomous shuttle bus driving at night using Velodyne Puck lidar sensors
TURING Drive’s 6-meter SAPPHIRE autonomous shuttle bus operating at night using Velodyne Puck lidar sensors

Q: In 2020, your company and the Taipei City Government will begin operating an autonomous driving shuttle service on dedicated bus lanes during off-peak hours. What are the goals of this project?

Liu: In mid-2020, TURING will operate an AV passenger service on the dedicated bus lane at Xinyi Road in downtown Taipei. It will address the shortage of bus drivers and make public transport available between 00:30-02:30. A return trip takes up 12.3 km.

The operation will be the first open-road testing at night. The autonomous shuttles will call at all bus stops, navigate through all road intersections, follow real-time traffic signals, and connect with roadside sensors (using V2X technology). Both RTK and GPS will be tested and integrated with an HD Map.

Q: Why is Taiwan such an excellent learning base and test bed for autonomous driving?

Liu: Taiwan is unique in terms of traffic pattern and a full-fledged industry ecosystem. For one thing, Taiwan features mixed traffic flow, consisting of automobiles and a swarm of scooters, on rather narrow streets. Yet the traffic has been well-managed and drivers tend to follow the rules.

Taiwan’s strong industries is another defining factor. An AV developer can easily visit globally-renowned ICT, OEM, automotive parts, battery, and vehicle prototyping companies in one day. This diverse and vigorous ecosystem expedites the R&D process and reduces tremendous costs.

TURING’s 4-meter OPAL shuttle driving on a road in Taiwan

Q: Why did TURING Drive decide to use Velodyne lidar and what value do Velodyne sensors add to your technology solutions?

Liu: Very simple. Velodyne’s proven record and superb quality has made it the only choice for TURING since its inception. TURING has been using Velodyne Puck sensors since day one and all 14 lidar sensors on board our vehicles have been flawless.

Q: What’s next for TURING Drive in using Velodyne technology?

Liu: As TURING keeps applying its autonomous driving system on various types of low-speed vehicles, including golf carts, streetsweepers, and agriculture machines, cost becomes increasingly critical. The very affordable Velabit might be a perfect solution for Turing’s special-purposed AVs.

TURING Drive's 4-meter OPAL Shuttle With Velodyne Puck lidar sensors driving on a racetrack with passengers
TURING Drive’s 4-meter OPAL Shuttle With Velodyne Puck lidar sensors on top, driving passengers

TURING Drive is a member of the Automated with Velodyne ecosystem. Click here to visit TURING’s Automated with Velodyne page.

About Velodyne Lidar

Velodyne provides smart, powerful lidar solutions for autonomy and driver assistance. Headquartered in San Jose, Calif., Velodyne is known worldwide for its portfolio of breakthrough lidar sensor technologies. Velodyne’s Founder, David Hall, invented real-time surround view lidar systems in 2005 as part of Velodyne Acoustics. Mr. Hall’s invention revolutionized perception and autonomy for automotive, new mobility, mapping, robotics, and security. Velodyne’s high-performance product line includes a broad range of sensing solutions, including the cost-effective Puck™, the versatile Ultra Puck™, the autonomy-advancing Alpha Prime™, the ADAS-optimized Velarray™ and the groundbreaking software for driver assistance, Vella™.

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