China OKs Self-driving Tests on Public Roads

New Chinese regulations will permit self-driving vehicle testing on public roads across the country.

The Chinese Ministry of Industry and Information Technology, Ministry of Public Security, and Ministry of Transport yesterday jointly issued the Intelligent Connected Vehicle Road Test Management Standards (Trial) (智能网联汽车道路测试管理规范试行) notice, which introduces regulations for testing self-driving cars on public roads nationwide. The policies exclude “low speed” vehicles and motorcycles, and will take effect on May 1.

The new regulations aim to facilitate the development of self-driving technology through the wide deployment of public road tests. Chinese media is reporting that the country also plans to make its transportation infrastructure more self-driving-friendly, according to an Officer from the Ministry of Transportation.

This year the Shanghai, Beijing, and Chongqing municipal governments introduced their own self-driving regulations; and China’s first special autonomous driving licence plates were issued to tech giant Baidu and electric vehicle startup NIO.

The new regulations require the presence in the test vehicle of a safety driver with at least three years driving experience and a clean record over the past 12 months. Testing companies are responsible for training their safety drivers, providing support in emergency situations on the road, and assume full liability for the vehicle’s actions during testing.

Test vehicles must be new and able to switch from self-driving mode to manual operation efficiently, safely and instantly. They require the capability for real-time monitoring, recording, and storing of vehicle status, control mode information (self-driving or manual), and location, direction and speed. Vehicles must also record environment perception and response data, headlight and turn signal status, and provide 360-degree video monitoring.

Testing companies must meet all technical requirements and provide a detailed test plan and insurance of CNY¥5 million for each test vehicle. Once an application is approved, the company will receive an Intelligent Connected Vehicle Road Test Notice (智能网联汽车路测试通知书), and can then apply for a temporary test license plate from the local Traffic Management Department of Public Security (公安机关交通管理部门).

Test vehicles must adhere to their submitted test plans. If a test vehicle experiences a severe accident or serious violation, the relevant supervision department (主管部门) can revoke the temporary test license plate. The testing company must submit a summary report one month after each test ends and full test reports every six months.

Author: Alex Chen| Editor: Tony Peng, Michael Sarazen

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