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China issues nationwide guidelines for road-testing of autonomous vehicles

China issues nationwide guidelines for road-testing of autonomous vehicles

According to a report in China Daily, China released
national regulations on road tests for self-driving or autonomous vehicles on 12
April. This is part of a broader drive to accelerate the development of the
technology and develop an advantage in the commercialization of autonomous
driving technology.

The guidelines were jointly issued by the Ministry of
Industry and Information Technology, the Ministry of Public Security and the
Ministry of Transport. The first draft of these guidelines were released
in January 2018.

The guidelines allow local authorities to evaluate local
conditions and arrange road tests for autonomous vehicles. The guidelines state
that the test vehicles should be passenger or commercial automobiles, not
low-speed vehicles or motorcycles.

The regulation, which will take effect on May 1, state that test
vehicles should be able to switch between self-driving and conventional driving,
in order to ensure the test driver can quickly take over in case of a
malfunction.

In addition, test applicants must be independent legal
entities registered in China, and have to first complete tests in designated
closed zones before conducting road tests.

Xin Guobin, vice-minister of industry and information
technology, said that road testing for self-driving vehicles is a complicated
project and safety should be the top priority.

He added that car manufacturers should intensify their
efforts in the research and development of self-driving technology, to offer
more vehicles with safe and reliable performance.

According to the China Daily report, the Ministry of Transport
said that the government is studying how to improve road infrastructure in
order to better adapt to self-driving vehicles.

In December 2017, Beijing issued
the first guidelines for road tests of autonomous vehiclse. A closed testing
ground for autonomous cars was opened in January.

The regulation followed a stunt by Baidu CEO, Robin L, as he
test-drove the company's autonomous vehicle on Beijing's open roads in July
2017. There were no rules regarding testing of such vehicles at the time.

In March, Beijing authorities issued
temporary license plates for Baidu's self-driving vehicles for public road
testing. The city has opened 33 roads adding up to a total length of 105
kilometers for autonomous car testing outside the Fifth Ring Road and away from
densely-populated areas on the outskirts.

The vehicles are eligible for public road testing only after
they have completed 5,000 kilometers of daily driving in designated closed test
fields and passed assessments. The test vehicles must be equipped with
monitoring devices that can monitor driving behavior, collect vehicle location
information and monitor whether a vehicle is in self-driving mode. Test drivers
must have received a minimum of 50 hours of self-driving training.

On March 1, the authorities in Shanghai issued
the country’s first road test licenses to two smart-car makers, SAIC Motor Corp
Ltd and electric vehicle startup, Nio Auto. The licenses allow the operators to
use a 5.6-km public road in Jiading District of Shanghai for testing smart
cars. Shanghai has been investing
in building world-class facilities for testing of autonomous vehicles.

The Shanghai
Declaration inked on November 6
 by seven parties set out an aim to
jointly direct efforts to build an intelligent connected transport system that
causes no emissions or casualties, and is energy-efficient, comfortable and
convenient. The signatories included the Ministry of Industry and Information
Technology, the Shanghai government, the United Kingdom Embassy in China, the
UK's Centre for Connected and Autonomous Vehicles, the International
Transportation Innovation Center, Nomura Research Institute, and the
Netherlands Organisation for Applied Scientific Research. 

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