In a bid to further promote the development and commercialization of intelligent and connected vehicles, Shanghai yesterday issued the country's first batch of licenses allowing testing of autopilot vehicles on public roads.
China's largest automaker SAIC Motor Co and Shanghai-based electric carmaker NIO received the licenses.
The licenses will allow the two companies to test their ICVs on a 5.6-kilometer stretch of public road in suburban Jiading District.
Testing features include identification and response to speed limit information, traffic light identification, identification of pedestrian and non-motor vehicle, lane keeping and other functions. The licenses are effective from March 1 to May 29, 2018.
"Shanghai is going to further accelerate testing, application, research and development of intelligent and connected vehicles. The city will seize opportunities, take the initiative to meet challenges, boost innovation and speed up the industrial development of high-end, electric cars and intelligent vehicles," said Huang Ou, vice chairman of the Shanghai Commission of Economy and Informatization.
"Shanghai will open more roads for testing smart cars," said Huang.
The license came after Baidu boss Robin Li test drove the company's autonomous vehicle on Beijing's open roads in July last year, causing controversy as there were no rules regarding such a test in the country.
Cao Guangyi, political commissar of the Shanghai traffic police, said police would pursue the responsibility of test drivers in cases of road accidents involving smart cars under road tests.
The city yesterday also released a basic guideline on public road test rules for ICVs. The guideline will help in better regulating and managing road tests of such vehicles and meet auto companies' testing needs on public roads.
According to the guideline, auto companies are required to establish a remote monitoring data platform for their testing vehicles, with data being accessed by data platform of a third-party organization. Carmakers need to purchase traffic accident insurance of at least 5 million yuan (US$788,034) per vehicle or have a letter of compensation guaranteeing the same amount. Test drivers should have more than 50 hours' experience of automated driving systems, 40 hours of which must be driving experience for applied projects before testing on public roads.
Shanghai is the first city in China to push forward road tests of ICVs from enclosed areas to public roads. Before, testing of such vehicles was allowed only in special closed areas such as the National Intelligent Connected Vehicle Shanghai Pilot Zone.
"Shanghai has a good foundation and environment in terms of development of intelligent and connected vehicles. The automobile industry is an important part of the real economy and supports Shanghai's economic development. The city will speed up the construction of advanced manufacturing and further promote Shanghai manufacturing," Huang said.
Shanghai's effort is also part of China's ambitious plan to become a world leader in the development of ICVs. The government hopes that half of new vehicles will be equipped with driver-assistance features by the end of 2020.
Li Lin, chief engineer of strategy and business planning department of Shanghai International Automobile City, said road testing of ICVs is expected to further enhance auto makers' technology and testing capabilities. "A real traffic environment is important for intelligent and connected vehicle testing. Vehicle testing on public roads will support rapid development of automated driving vehicle technology."
Rong Wenwei, general manager of Shanghai International Automobile City, said: "As the first step today we conducted road tests of intelligent and connected vehicles on 5.6 kilometers of public road in Jiading District. In the future, Shanghai will gradually extend the range of road tests to cover the entire Anting Town based on technology progress, traffic risk assessment and other considerations. The expansion will also cover urban and highway scenarios," Rong said.
Zhang Cheng, general manager of research and advanced technology department of SAIC Motor Co, said that road test will bring technology improvement and boost enterprises' research and development level.
Qin Lihong, co-founder and president of NIO, said: "The license provides a legal basis for us to test intelligent and connected vehicles on public roads. It will also greatly promote our research and development of automated driving system."