China’s government had called upon automakers to fast track self-driving cars with a goal to perhaps overtake the U.S. and Europe’s implementation of the technology.
Now the country’s auto-industry regulator has put up a road block, at least temporarily.
The Ministry of Industry and Information is well underway towards implementing autonomous vehicle regulations, but the ministry’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.
It is not clear at this point how long the embargo on testing might last as no timeframe was given to complete the regulations.
Depending on how long the moratorium on highway testing will be enforced, it could well set back the efforts of companies aiming to introduce automated driving to China.
Local testing is a necessary requirement to gather data to take into account different traffic conditions, driving habits and roadway signs.
Baidu, often touted as China’s Google, has already partnered up with BMW to create its first autonomous vehicle and has completed successful tests for a driverless BMW 3 Series through the streets of Beijing (Above photo). Now they will have to wait.
China’s announcement follows Germany’s proposal that vehicles equipped with semi- or fully-autonomous hardware must have a “black box” to make it easier to determine the cause of an accident.
Self-driving cars are receiving increased scrutiny after the U.S. National Highway Traffic Safety Administration (NHTSA) began investigating a fatal accident involving a Tesla Model S sedan driver using the firm’s semi-autonomous Autopilot system in May.