Self-driven cars expected on China’s roads in 3-5 years

Unmanned vehicles will appear in regular traffic in three to five years, and people can soon travel in automatically-driven cars on expressways between Beijing and Shanghai while “eating and singing,” according to the CEO of one of China’s largest tech firms.

Robin Li Yanhong, who is also a member of the 13th National Committee of Chinese People’s Political Consultative Conference (CPPCC), made the prediction at the first session of the 13th CPPCC National Committee in Beijing.

Li said Baidu is attempting to connect with some mainstream car manufacturers to make automatic driving possible on expressways.

“If you want to travel from Beijing to Shanghai, for example, the only thing you need is to drive the car to Beijing’s Fifth Ring Road or expressway, wait, enjoy eating and singing until the system reminds you to take over and drive off the expressway after you arrive in Shanghai,” Li said.

Baidu will launch a limited number of minibuses without steering wheels or driver’s seats this year, according to the tech company’s head. Cooperating with China’s King Long, a bus manufacturer, the minibus called “Abolong” will first operate on closed roads or limited conditions like scenic areas and docks.

“Artificial intelligence will be the Fourth Industrial Revolution in human history, and China has stepped into this field in good time,” Sun Zhang, a railway expert and professor at Shanghai Tongji University, told the Global Times.

Massachusetts Institute of Technology (MIT) published a list of the 50 smartest companies of 2017 in June 2017, and seven companies from the Chinese mainland including Baidu, Tencent and Alibaba were on the list.

“The next step is for China to offer legal support for automated cars, establish laws and policies that standardize the industry, and to encourage car producers to cooperate with research centers to hasten the development of technologies required for self-driving,” Sun said.

On March 1, China issued the country’s first three road test licenses to smart car makers that allowed the operators to use a 5.6-kilometer public road in Jiading district of East China’s Shanghai Municipality to test smart cars, CCTV reported. Shanghai also issued its Regulations on Intelligent and Connected Vehicles Road Testing (Trial) on February 28.

Southwest China’s Chongqing Municipality on Wednesday followed suit with a Detailed Implementation Rules for the Administration of the Road Tests of Autonomous Vehicles (Trial), becoming the third city to issue road testing regulations for self-driving cars in China.

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