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China Plans to Mass Produce Driverless Cars by 2025 Later Than Previous Forecast

By Ding Yi / Feb 25, 2020 01:28 PM / Economy

Photo: VCG

Photo: VCG

China aims to achieve mass production of vehicles with “conditional” self-driving capabilities by 2025, according to a development plan jointly released Monday by the country’s National Development and Reform Commission (NDRC) and several other government agencies.

The Society of Automotive Engineers (SAE) divides autonomous driving technology into six levels from 0 to 5. “Conditional” driving automation refers to Level 3 technology which allows a car to drive itself only under certain circumstances in which a human driver is ready to take control in case of an emergency.

The target set by the development plan is a downgrade from what was said in a 2018 NDRC draft, in which the government agency outlined that, by this year, intelligent cars would already account for 50% of all new vehicles sold in China.

The rollback comes as autonomous vehicle developers continue to face technological challenges in their efforts to make driverless cars 100% safe. Accidents involving autonomous vehicles in the past few years have fueled public fears about sharing roads with such cars.

The development plan also provides a possible solution to some of the safety concerns, including the use of “vehicle-road coordination technology.” The technology is used to increase the interaction between smart road infrastructure and a self-driving car, which in turn strengthens the car’s capabilities of understanding the surrounding road conditions.

According to the development plan, China will ramp up its efforts to build smart roads, a new-generation transport network control system and the 5G-powered internet capabilities of vehicles.

Contact reporter Ding Yi (yiding@caixin.com)

Related: Chinese Truckmaker and Israeli Sensor Firm Team Up on Self-Driving Trucks


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