Shanghai issued China's first batch of licenses allowing testing intelligent and connected vehicles (ICVs) on public roads on March 1. Previously, the road testing of these vehicles was only allowed in closed areas.
The city opened a 5.6-kilometer-long road in suburban Jiading district for the testing. Two Shanghai-based auto makers, SAIC Motor Corp and Shanghai-based electric carmaker NIO, were granted licenses, which take effective from March 1 to May 29, 2018.
Huang Ou, deputy director with Shanghai Commission of Economy and Information Technology, said at the press conference on March 1 that Shanghai will gradually open more public roads for ICV road testing.
To better regulate and guide road testing and boost the development of ICVs, the local government also launched trial guideline regulations on testing of intelligent and connected cars on public roads.
It requires automakers to establish a remote monitoring data platform and deck with a third-party agent, purchase traffic accident insurance no less than 5 million yuan ($788,034) per testing vehicle or issue a compensation letter that guarantees the same amount of coverage.
Test drivers must have more than 50 hours of driving experience in automated driving systems, 40 hours of which must have been completed through applied projects before testing on public roads.
Cao Guangyi, political commissar at the Traffic Police Corps of Shanghai Public Security Bureau, confirmed at the press conference that if any traffic offenses or accidents occur during road testing, local police will handle the case according to existing laws and regulations.
According to Huang, further efforts will be made to improve road testing. Dynamic evaluations by a third-party agent will be carried out during the testing so as to make adjustments.
Shanghai will also accelerate intelligent infrastructure construction for future testing roads and increase the difficulty and level of road testing in an orderly way.
Moreover, it will continue to improve its evaluation methods and make evaluation standards more reasonable.
Outfitted with advanced installations such as sensors, controllers and actuators as well as being integrated with modern communication and internet technologies, an ICV allows smart information exchange and sharing between the car and other parties.
Being able to analyze a complicated environment, make decisions and realize coordinated control, it will make driving safer, more effective, more comfortable and more energy-saving.
As the global auto industry enters a new age of innovation and transformation, China sees smart cars as a major breakthrough in industry upgrade and transformation.
In January of this year, China released draft guidelines to develop smart cars for public opinions. It hopes to equip 50 percent of its new vehicles with intelligent driving by the end of 2020.
Shanghai, one of the leading cities of China's auto industry and a forerunner in ICV innovation and development, has also been making greater efforts to develop the ICV industry.
In June of 2015, the Ministry of Industry and Information Technology of the People's Republic of China approved to build the National Intelligent Connected Vehicle (Shanghai) Pilot Zone in Jiading district of Shanghai.
Closed testing areas were put into use in June of 2016. With 200 driving scenarios and outstanding technologies, it has become an influential international platform.
"More than 40 domestic and overseas companies have done road testing in this zone," Lu Zufang, deputy head of Jiading district, said at the press conference.
In January of 2017, Shanghai formulated a Plan for Shanghai Innovative Projects of Intelligent and Connected Vehicles, which makes ICV development a part of the city's efforts in serving the country's strategy of enhancing manufacturing and -building Shanghai into a global center of innovation in science and technology.
Moreover, it has been pushing forward the construction of the industry chain of ICVs by facilitating technological innovation in both cars and car parts including smart car operating systems and laser radars.
Construction of public platforms and standards for ICVs have been ongoing as well. In 2017, Shanghai organized the 2017 World Autonomous Vehicle Ecosystem Conference in Jiading district and established an ICV innovation center to help the city become a global leader in this field by 2020.
Investment in innovations
Intelligent driving has become a hot field that international automakers and internet enterprises compete for with a huge dedication to research and development.
As a start-up of electric cars founded in 2014, NIO has been making rapid progress. In 2016, the young company started testing on autonomous driving systems.
In December of 2017, it launched NIO Pilot, an advanced -driver-assistance system. According to SAIC Motor, China's largest automaker, it started research on the key technologies of intelligent driving in 2013.
Moving road tests from closed areas to public roads is a true test of the advancement, maturity and stability of its intelligent and connected technologies as well as the ability to integrate with the local traffic environment, an employee from SAIC Motor who prefers to be unnamed told the Global Times on Sunday.
The company will install intelligent technologies in three of its proprietary brands in the future. It also plans to launch the first volume production model, which will realize intelligent driving in specific scenarios such as automated parking.