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Credit: Robert S. Donovan (www.flickr.com/people/10687935@N04)/ CC BY 2.0 (creativecommons.org/licenses/by/2.0/deed.en)

Credit: Robert S. Donovan (www.flickr.com/people/10687935@N04)/ CC BY 2.0 (creativecommons.org/licenses/by/2.0/deed.en)

China accelerating development of supportive policies for smart car industry

According to China Daily, China is accelerating the development of its strategic plan for the smart car industry.

As per the report, the Ministry of Industry and Information Technology is in the process of rolling out a directive to encourage the smart car sector, which will address the integration of the smart car, smart transportation and telecommunications sectors. An inter-ministry coordination mechanism is also being set up.

According to the China Industry Innovation Alliance (the ‘Alliance’) for the Intelligent and Connected Vehicles, China will create its own smart car standards, traffic rules and laws and regulations on safety. The government is also looking into regulations on accident-incurred liabilities. Design guidance will be provided for smart cars and standards will be set for test grounds.

Earlier this month, the Ministry of Industry and Information Technology, the Ministry of Public Security and the Ministry of Transport jointly released a draft regulation on road tests for smart and connected vehicles, addressing the legal issues for smart cars to be tested in real-world conditions on the roads.

The guidelines allow local authorities to evaluate local conditions and arrange road tests for autonomous vehicles. 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.

The regulation followed a stunt by Baidu CEO, Robin Li, 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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