Chinese internet giant Tencent on Monday received its first license to test intelligent connected vehicles on designated roads, marking a step toward application level for its automotive driving technology research.
The license was issued by the Shenzhen government and it is also the city's first and only license of its kind.
The test car, which already made its debut last month in Beijing, is a modified SUV with cameras and laser radars on its top, body and rear.
Su Kuifeng, head of Tencent's automotive driving lab, said the license indicates Shenzhen transportation authority's recognition of the company's self-driving technology.
"This is the first year our automotive driving technology has made it into production and our major focus is Level 3, while providing data support to Level 4 and Level 5 products," he said.
According to the six-level standard system defined by the Society of Automotive Engineers, Level 3 cars can manage most aspects of driving, including monitoring the environment, but the driver must be available to take over at any time, while higher level standards require almost no driver intervention.
The Shenzhen-based enterprise states it is positioned as a provider of comprehensive automotive driving system software and services. It has teamed up with several domestic carmakers and promises to establish an open platform for the industry.
Su noted artificial intelligence algorithms, high resolution maps, data platforms and simulation systems are at the core of the automotive driving lab and a "stable and reliable" self-driving system.
Han Hao, director of the smart transportation division at the Transportation Bureau in Shenzhen, said a driver and a safety supervisor are required in the car, but the time and location of the test has not been released yet.
Since the end of last year, several cities in China have opened sections of road to test self-driving cars, including Beijing and Shanghai. China's first three test licenses were issued in March and Baidu Inc received one of them.
Zeng Zhiling, managing director of LMC Automotive Consulting Co, said that Tencent is catching up with other internet giants in terms of applying self-driving technology.