China and SAE Issue Roadmap to Fast Track Autonomous Vehicles

The Chinese government and Society of Automotive Engineers of China have issued a roadmap through 2030 that could have semi- or fully autonomous vehicles on sale as early as 2021.

The 450-page plan that was issued by the SAEC lays out a roadmap for the development of autonomous technologies in three distinct five-year periods.

It was authored by the SAEC in conjunction with a government-sanctioned industry committee. The main goal of the report is to forge a consensus within China’s auto industry to rapidly move toward producing and selling self-driving cars.

“We must as quickly as possible form a common understanding on smart connected vehicle technology,” said the report.

In the first phase of the plan, from 2021 to 2025, the objective would be to bring to market vehicles capable of driving themselves in nearly all situations. Some form of autonomous or assisted driving should be in every car by 2026 to 2030, the report said.

The final phase starting after 2030 was left open in the plan, without backing a single autonomous technology or standard for vehicles to communicate with each other. Li Keqiang, a professor at Tsinghua University involved in writing the report, said that it does lay out a timeline for developing that single standard.

Earlier this year, officials had said that a draft would be released to set out technical standards. That would include a common language for cars to communicate with each other, along with a set of regulatory guidelines. China has hoped to play a leading role in bringing autonomous vehicles to roads.

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In July, a government ministry halted testing of autonomous vehicles in China. The Ministry of Industry and Information’s head, She Weizhen, said until the rules are finalized, self-driving cars cannot be tested on public highways. She said her department is working with police to formulate the regulations for autonomous cars, according to Automotive News.

As seen in the photo above, Chinese search engine giant Baidu has been testing autonomous vehicles on the streets of Beijing. Baidu had partnered with BMW to test a self-driving BMW Series 3. They’ll have to wait, along with other companies interested in testing self-driving cars, until standards are adopted and the ministry allows testing to come back.

Reuters