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Beijing issues China’s first guidelines to allow autonomous vehicle testing on public roads

BEIJING – The Beijing Municipal Commission of Transport, Beijing Traffic Management Bureau and Beijing Municipal Commission of Economy and Information Technology jointly issued The Guidelines on Accelerating the Road Test of Autonomous Vehicles in Beijing and The Regulations on Managing and Implementing the Road Test of Autonomous Vehicles in Beijing on December 18.

That makes Beijing China’s first city to release guidelines on road testing of autonomous vehicles and signals China’s determination to accelerate the development of autonomous driving technologies.

According to the Guidelines, independent entities registered in China can apply for road tests for the purpose of testing autonomous driving systems. They can apply to test at most five vehicles at a time and need to provide basic information of these test vehicles, introduction and operating instructions of autonomous driving systems, and installation certificates of autonomous driving data recorders. At the same time, they must purchase no less than ¥5 million in traffic accident liability insurance or provide no less than ¥5 million in letter of guarantee of autonomous driving road test accident indemnity.

Test vehicles should be motor vehicles that have not been registered and carry autonomous driving systems with functions of running or disengaging from automatic driving and safety warning. Before conducting road tests, they must first complete tests of no less than the prescribed mileage and prescribed scenario in designated closed zones according to relevant requirements to prove that they have the capabilities to operate on public roads for testing.

In the Regulations, one word that is frequently mentioned is the human driver. There should be one human driver sitting in every test vehicle’s driver seat, who needs to have more than three-years of safe driving experience and fully understand the related knowledge about autonomous driving, to make real-time supervision of autonomous driving system’s running status and immediately take over in case of emergencies and other special situations.

Several test scenarios of autonomous driving system are pointed out in the Guidelines, such as highway simulation scene, urban test environment, unmarked roads and specific road scenes. In addition, the authorities said that they will soon release the list of road sections eligible for such tests.

If an accident occurs during the process of road test, the autonomous driving vehicle test will be halted by the relevant authorities or the third party authority, and the human driver will be responsible for the accident.

China expects 80 percent of new vehicles sold in 2025 to feature some autonomous driving functions, according to an automotive development plan released in April. Many Chinese companies are already working hard on the R&D of autonomous driving technologies.

In the future, Beijing will attract more and more companies to conduct autonomous driving road tests like what they do now in California in the U.S., which has granted autonomous driving licenses to more than 40 OEMs, suppliers and technology companies.

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