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.