China Unveils National Self-Driving Vehicle Guidelines

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The government of China has unveiled new national self-driving vehicle testing guidelines, the China Daily newspaper has revealed.

That report cited the country’s vice industry ministry, Xin Guobin, who made some interesting comments about the global push to develop commercial self-driving vehicle systems.

The new rules themselves are pretty straightforward, simply laying out a development pathway that begins with testing on non-public roads and is followed by testing on designated roads. The requirement is laid out clearly that there has to always to be a safety driver present and ready at any time to take over.

“To ensure the safety of road tests, we will not only not only require that road tests take place on prescribed streets, but also that the test driver sits in the driver position throughout, monitoring the car and the surrounding environment and ready to take control of the car at any time,” he stated. “This is a lesson that we have learned from the accidents faced by Uber and Tesla.”

The comments from Guobin included the argument that the country had to “seize” initiative in the sector so as to ensure that the country was a leading center for the tech. The tech is apparently meant to be part of the country’s “Made in China 2025” push — a strategy used over recent years whereby production in the country is shifted towards high-spec (and thus high-value) products.

“We will accelerate to build a strong manufacturing country, a strong country in science and technology with strong networks and transportation,” Guobin stated in a collection of comments posted on the Ministry of Industry of Information Technology webpage.

Reuters provides more: “Chinese cities including Beijing and Shanghai have previously announced local guidelines for self-driving tests, while internet giant Baidu Inc already has approval to test self-driving vehicles on city streets. … Xin added China should also push forward other technologies needed to support smart vehicles, including next-generation 5G communications networks and intelligent roads.” (SAIC and NIO also have licenses allowing for self-driving vehicle testing on public roads, the first two provided. Baidu received its license a bit later, from what we read and reported.)

Notably, of course, the country has also been aggressively pursuing the development and sale of plug-in electric vehicles, a tech that is particularly well suited to integration with self-driving vehicle tech.

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James Ayre

James Ayre's background is predominantly in geopolitics and history, but he has an obsessive interest in pretty much everything. After an early life spent in the Imperial Free City of Dortmund, James followed the river Ruhr to Cofbuokheim, where he attended the University of Astnide. And where he also briefly considered entering the coal mining business. He currently writes for a living, on a broad variety of subjects, ranging from science, to politics, to military history, to renewable energy.

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