The Chinese government has seen enough and the only autonomous vehicle testing activity it’s going to allow for now near the public is self-parking.
Officials warned automakers that there should be no on-road testing of self-driving vehicles until the rules for those exercises are finalized. Currently, the Ministry of Information Technology and police have an early draft of potential regulations, but nothing has been finalized, said She Weizhen, head of the ministry’s auto department, recently. There is no deadline set for when those rules should be ready, according to Bloomberg News.
China’s move comes as the U.S. Transportation Secretary Anthony Foxx announced plans to release new guidelines for the ongoing development of self-driving vehicles later this summer.
During a speech in San Francisco, Foxx reminded that the goal should be to safely test and advanced autonomous technology, but not to do the latter at the expense of the former.
“We want people who start a trip to finish it,” Foxx said. And while “Autonomous doesn’t mean perfect,” he cautioned that, “We need industry to take the safety aspects of this very seriously.”
(Automakers can’t sacrifice safety in rush to autonomous driving. For more, Click Here.)
The focus on safety in the U.S. comes after the driver of a Tesla Model S was killed while using the Autopilot feature. Two other crashes are being investigated to see if Autopilot malfunctioned.
Tesla’s founder and CEO Elon Musk has said the company has no plans to disable Autopilot in its vehicles; however, he did not address this move by the Chinese government specifically.
(Consumer Reports wants Autopilot shut off. Click Here for that story.)
The move by the Chinese government is a bit of a surprise as the country has been pushing for self-driving vehicles as part of a bigger plan to urge manufacturers to upgrade their technology as lower-cost countries emerge and compete for labor-intensive factory jobs, Bloomberg reported.
The ban is most likely going to delay any advances Chinese or foreign automakers make in this arena.
(To see more about Tesla’s effort to improve Autopilot, Click Here.)
Chongqing Changan Automobile conducted a 1,200-mile trip this spring with an autonomous car that uses cameras and radar. The chairmen of Internet search provider Baidu and automaker Zhejiang Geely Holding Group in March urged the government to speed up the drafting of a legal framework for the technology, the news service said.