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Intelligent vehicle and self-driving tech key component of China’s new AI development plan

BEIJING – China wants to become a global innovation center in artificial intelligence (AI) by 2030, and intelligent vehicles and autonomous driving technologies will be a key component of that ambition, according to a new guideline on AI development issued by the State Council on July 20.

The New Generation Artificial Intelligence Development Plan has set a goal for China’s total output value of AI core industries to surpass ¥1 trillion and that of related industries to more than ¥10 trillion by 2030. The major goal is broken into three stages: catch up with the advanced global levels in AI technology and application by 2020, make major breakthroughs in basic theories by 2025, and become a global innovation center in the field by 2030.

The main tasks are to set up an open and coordinated AI innovation system, cultivate a smart economy and society, integrate AI with national defense, establish smart infrastructure, and carry out major science-technology projects in the sector.

According to the Plan, breakthroughs should be made in basic theories of AI, such as big data intelligence, multimedia aware computing, human-machine hybrid intelligence, swarm intelligence and automated decision-making. Advanced theories which can potentially transform AI should also be looked at, including advanced machine learning, brain-like computing and quantum intelligent computing.

New industries using AI technology should be developed, such as smart robot, smart vehicle, virtual reality (VR), augmented reality (AR) and smart terminal. Traditional industries should be integrated with AI to develop smart manufacturing, agriculture, finance, logistics and business.

The government will invest in qualified AI projects, while private capital investment is also encouraged. A development fund for AI should be set up, laws and regulations should be formulated, and technology standards, an intellectual property rights system, and a supervision mechanism should also be enacted.

The Plan encouraged domestic AI companies and researchers to cooperate with leading foreign AI teams and consider merging or investing in foreign companies, and set up joint research centers and AI international organizations.

“The intelligent economy that the plan is keen to promote includes high-end and highly efficient industries which can be divided into three aspects,” said Li Meng, deputy minister of Science and Technology, at a State Council policy briefing on July 21. “The first one is emerging AI industries, such as pattern recognition, facial recognition, intelligent robots and intelligent vehicles, augmented reality (AR) and virtual reality (VR). The second is the traditional industries transformed by AI, including the intelligent manufacturing, agriculture and logistics. The third is intelligent enterprises that are equipped with intelligent manufacturing facilities.”

Following are key highlights from the Plan pertaining to intelligent vehicles and autonomous driving technologies:

  • Achieve major breakthroughs in generic technologies in the fields of unmanned computing architecture, perception and understanding of complex dynamic environments, real time precision positioning and adaptive smart navigation for complex environments; independent control of drones and intelligent technologies including autonomous driving of automobiles, ships and rail transport;
  • Establish support platforms for independent unmanned system generic technologies, self-controlled drones and autonomous driving for automobiles, ships and rail transport;
  •  Develop autonomous driving vehicle and rail transport system, strengthen technology integration of on-board perception, autonomous driving, telematics and internet of things, develop transport smart perception system, form independent autonomous driving platform technology system and product assembly capabilities, explore driverless car sharing business model;
  • Speed up the cultivation of leading companies in the emerging fields of intelligent robots and vehicles, wearables and virtual reality;
  • Research intelligent technologies on autonomous driving automobiles, ships and rail transport, unmanned workshops/smart factory, high-end smart control technologies and independent unmanned operation systems;
  • Research and set up technology mechanism involving operational vehicle autonomous driving and vehicle-road coordination, research and develop comprehensive big data application platform for multi-dimensional transport information in complex environments and realize intelligent traffic dispersion and comprehensive operation and coordinated direction;
  • Speed up rollout of 5G augmented technology R&D and application that coordinates with AI in real time, build an AI-coordinated high-precision navigation positioning network, and develop industrial internet that can support smart operation and telematics catered to self-driving.

China has set ambitious targets for the commercialization of various levels of autonomous driving. The Auto Industry Mid- to Long-Term Development Plan released earlier this year called for 80 percent of new vehicles to be equipped with driver assistance, partially automated or conditionally automated systems by 2025 with highly automated and fully automated vehicles entering the market by then.

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