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Ministry to speed development of self-driving vehicles

Zhao Xinying
Updated: Mar 1,2019 7:00 AM     China Daily

The Ministry of Transport will take steps to boost the development of autonomous driving technology in China, according to Minister Li Xiaopeng.

“We have selected some areas of Xiongan New Area, Zhejiang province and Xiamen, Fujian province, as pilot zones for the technology,” Li said at a news conference in Beijing on Feb 28.

“We will also cooperate with other countries to accelerate the development of autonomous driving,” he added.

Li stressed that autonomous driving, as a rising, cutting-edge technology, is of great importance to China in terms of safety, efficiency, services and the development of industries.

“China is paying great attention to the development of this technology. Our principle is to encourage trials, allow failures, ensure safety and oppose monopolies,” he said.

Autonomous driving, although a new concept, has been embraced by many people. A survey released in November 2017 by JD Power, a global marketing information services company based in the United States, found that almost 80 percent of Chinese consumers welcomed autonomous driving, although they might have concerns about the safety of the technology and the lack of related laws and regulations.

To root out people’s concerns and ensure better development, the Ministry of Transport created China’s first regulations for road testing for autonomous vehicles in April, jointly with the Ministry of Public Security and the Ministry of Industry and Information Technology, Li said.

In July, the Ministry of Transport released guidance on how to build safe closed test sites for autonomous driving.

So far, three closed test sites nationwide — in Beijing, Chongqing and Xi’an, Shaanxi province — have been approved by the ministry, Li said. The one in Xi’an released some draft guidance on testing on Feb 27, Xinhua News Agency reported.

According to the guidance, drivers and vehicles that have passed inspections are allowed to test autonomous vehicles in designated open areas of the city.

Only enterprises or research institutes that have mastered the technology can perform tests, and they must have the financial ability to pay for accidental losses and to monitor and control the vehicles.

Accidents during the tests will be handled in accordance with the city’s laws and regulations on traffic safety, the guidance said.

Li said autonomous driving will take some time to be well applied. The ministry will work with other ministries and commissions to set up national guidance and standards.

“Legislation in the field should follow,” he said.