TAIPAN is an optical spectroscopic survey that will observe of order 2 million stars and 500,000 galaxies over a significant fraction of the Southern hemisphere. The TAIPAN instrument is currently under construction, and is designed to make use of the novel Starbugs fibre positioner system. With 150 fully-parallelized and independently-steerable Starbug-driven fibres, TAIPAN will also serve as a prototype and testbed for the technologies necessary for the larger MANIFEST fibre positioner system, which will in turn play a crucial role in realising the scientific capabilities of the planned Giant Magellan Telescope.
We describe the TAIPAN instrument requirements, design specifications, and current status, as well as the five-year astronomical survey program that it will undertake starting in 2015. We also describe the path from the present design of TAIPAN to the future realisation of the significantly more complex MANIFEST facility.