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The iconic tuk-tuk of Thailand get a makeover as start-up gears in Bangkok

Beginning in November, a public-private partnership will test the nation’s first self-driving tuk-tuk

Photo by paolo candelo on Unsplash

According to South China Morning Post, Thailand’s ubiquitous tuk-tuk, the noisy, colourful three-wheeled taxi that has been belching exhaust fumes on local roads for almost a century, is getting a cutting-edge makeover to help carry the local auto industry into the future.

Beginning in November, a public-private partnership will test the nation’s first self-driving tuk-tuk in an effort to nudge Thailand toward the forefront of developing autonomous-vehicle technology in Southeast Asia. Start-up Airovr, investor Siri Ventures and the Thai government will run the months-long trial inside a gated Bangkok community, hoping that what they learn can be transferred into bigger vehicles like minibuses.

Most autonomous-driving advancements in Asia come from Chinese and Japanese companies – such as Baidu, Pony.ai and Toyota Motor Corp. – spending billions of dollars on software development, partnerships and road tests. Southeast Asia does not have a local champion, so Thailand views the technology as a way to bolster – and keep relevant – an auto industry generating 12 per cent of its gross domestic product…

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