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Beijing accelerates development of self-driving vehicles

Updated: Jan 5, 2018 China Daily Print
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Baidu conducts test runs with unmanned vehicles in Wuzhen, Zhejiang province. [Photo provided to China Daily]

Beijing has released a guideline for road tests of self-driving cars, which shows the authorities' support for technological innovation through systematic innovation. The Beijing News comments:

According to the guidelines, independent legal entities registered in China can apply to road test self-driving vehicles as long as the vehicles satisfy the national safety requirements, conduct the road tests in designated areas and time periods and purchase necessary traffic accident liability insurance.

Road tests are an indispensable part of the research and development of autonomous vehicles.

In the laboratory the researchers can only simulate actual driving conditions and cannot predict all eventualities. Only through road tests can self-driving vehicles improve their safety. Yet as an innovative technology, there are few regulations on the development of self-driving vehicles.

Any innovation should not undermine public interests. Legislators should act quickly in response to technological innovations to protect public interests.

Take self-driving vehicle as an example. Under the existing law anyone conducting road tests of driverless vehicles without approval will be fined. But laws and regulations should improve soon, in order to not only guarantee public interests but also encourage technological innovation.

The guideline came four days after the Ministry of Industry and Information Technology unveiled a three-year plan to boost the application of artificial intelligence in the automotive sector among others.

According to an automotive industry development plan released in April, it is expected that by 2025, 80 percent of the new vehicles sold in the Chinese market will feature some autonomous driving functions.

To take the lead in autonomous driving technology, China should pay attention to the legislation accompanying its development. Beijing's guideline on self-driving vehicles' road tests sets a good example on this issue.

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