The government of China has just issued the first two licenses in the country allowing for testing of self-driving vehicles on public roads there, according to the state-owned news firm Xinhua.
The two licenses in question were awarded to SAIC Motor Corp and NextEV’s NIO — one of the largest auto manufacturers in the country and a strongly backed electric vehicle startup, respectively.
The new licenses allow the license holders to begin testing self-driving vehicles on a 3.5 mile (5.6 kilometer) stretch of public road in the Jiading District of Shanghai.
Reuters provides more: “The licenses were issued after Robin Li, the boss of China’s biggest search engine Baidu, tested his firm’s driverless car on Beijing’s roads in July, stirring controversy as there were no rules for such a test, the agency said.
“NIO said it had received its license from Shanghai Municipal Government. … Shanghai also issued regulations on road tests for such smart cars and said it would promote the application and commercialization of vehicles using artificial intelligence technology and Internet-linked functions, Xinhua reported.”
Testing on larger stretches of public roads will reportedly follow before too long.
This news follows on the release of guidelines by the California Department of Motor Vehicles (DMV) allowing for the testing of self-driving vehicles there without human oversight being directly present. It also occurs right around the same time that Waymo’s self-driving vehicle program in Arizona is being opened to be general public.
It’s hard to say how far along the China-based self-driving vehicle tech developers — like Baidu, SAIC, NIO, etc. — are, but for the time being, it appears that Waymo/Google is leading everyone. Though, the Waymo solution seems to be fairly expensive for the time being.
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