Now that China has released a long-term (but not too much!) roadmap for self-driving vehicles on sale by 2021, what message does this say to the world?
When the world’s largest auto market makes a statement like this, it’s surely the clearest signal to all of us, that driverless/self-driving/autonomous cars will happen.I admit, I’m sure, like many people, that every day that I have, “will” / “will not” moments come up.
The 450-page Chinese roadmap was released by the official Society of Automotive Engineers of China – SAEC.
This document determines the development of all aspects of the Chinese automotive industry until 2030.
It covers these developments in full cooperation and consensus with the Chinese automotive industry for self-driving cars. However, this is clearly a Chinese-led document and will not cover their goal of rapid development in Europe, the United States and other Asian regions.
The SAEC report made it clear that they wanted to move as quickly as possible to achieve a common understanding of all aspects of smart connected vehicle technology.
Their intention is for automated/assisted driving technology to be in every car by 2026 to 2030 in some form, but the first introduction will be in 2021.
We should not doubt China’s intention and this roadmap document. When China decides to do something, it does not dwell on talking about it for decades.
In 2005, China decided to start planning the use of renewable energy resources. Just 10 years later, they now have the largest solar and wind installations in the world.
Despite the economic decline of the past 2 years, China still has the investment and manpower resources to carry out massive project developments very quickly.
Chinese internet giant and self-driving vehicle developer Baidu will be delighted to have conducted 30km tests in Beijing last year with excellent results. This is despite the issue regarding the lack of map detail in China, which, while good in Beijing, isn’t so good outside of major major cities.
But it’s not all of China that is in the lead, it’s more of a catch-up. In fact quite a few kilometers are needed to catch up with Google/Waymo
Because detailed mapping is much more detailed in the majority of the United States and Western Europe, this has allowed Western manufacturers to develop their technology over the past 6 years. Google’s well-known driverless car program, for example, has been tested over 1.5 million miles since 2009. Additionally, the company plans to sell cars by 2020, likely becoming the early leader.
Tesla also announced this month that all of its new vehicles will be equipped with equipment for autonomous driving, such as Radar/Lidar/Cameras.
Tesla had a tragic problem, but got to the root causes and is now aiming hard to be a leader in this emerging market.
But, we have to ask, who stands to gain the most from the involvement of autonomous vehicles? Perhaps China, which has huge problems with traffic congestion, which will only increase, as well as a huge rate of deaths and accidents on the roads.
So, is China’s 2021 self-driving roadmap the biggest positive sign from the autonomous vehicle industry yet? Will China dominate this industry in the 2020s?
All in all, for my money, it looks like the US, China and maybe Western Europe will all be in a similar place by then and who knows, even talk to each other!
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