On 30 December 2022, Beijing issued permits to test self-driving vehicles with Baidu and Pony.ai being the first cohort of companies approved to test their autonomous cars which are completely driverless.
This permit allows the safety officer to monitor the fully driverless car remotely under strict requirements and operate it when necessary. This testing phase has been considered as significantly essential for technology development before the self-driving vehicles can be mass produced.
Pony.ai will test 10 self-driving vehicles in the permitted road area and time the duration that the car is left completely unoccupied. Baidu is planning to expand its business with 200 robo-taxis to hit the road and cover the whole country by the end of 2023 , aiming to build up the largest self-driving service area worldwide.
According to China’s Autonomous Vehicles Market Report 2022, the sector value is reported to reach 10 billion RMB ($1.5 billion) with the possibility of large scale use by 2025.
Not to mention that China has become the world’s second-largest market for self-driving technology. With cloud computing, big data and 5G evolving rapidly, the self-driving industry is ready to gain further momentum if potentially made publicly available.
In the meantime, challenges exist as the full coverage of 5G is one of the demanding requirements for driverless vehicles to operate well, but the technology is still in the early stages of development.
Baidu dived into the autonomous car world in 2013 with its relevant project, and after years of innovation finally reached the stage where no staff member was required in the back of its vehicles.
A survey conducted by McKinsey Centre on mobility future on December 2021 shows that “Chinese consumers are more enthusiastic about autonomous functionalities and more willing to purchase than Western consumers.”
All the increasing demands of different dimensions from government regulations, consumer interests and fast-growing technologies are paving a way for the development and a good growth prospect of self-driving vehicles.