China's Beijing Municipal Committee of Transportation has now announced new guidance and rules aimed at helping accelerate the research and development of autonomous vehicles in the country. The announcement was made via the Committee's official website on December 18 and, more specifically, opens up new possibilities for those working in that market in terms of real-world road testing. That's thanks to the efforts of the municipal transportation commission, the Municipal Public Security Traffic Management Bureau and the Municipal Economic and Information Technology Commission, and two pieces of legislation pertaining to such tests – including The Guiding Opinions on Accelerating the Road Testing of Autonomous Vehicles and Detailed Rules for the Administration of Test and Management of Autonomous Vehicles In Beijing – which have now been approved.
As to what those newly approved guidelines encompass, the testing conditions appear to be similar to those found in some other countries. Manufacturers who have reached a stage in development where road tests are feasible can apply to be granted permission to conduct further tests their vehicles on pre-determined public roadways – giving a company's researchers access to critical real-world data. As mentioned, those tests will be assigned to specific roadways limiting the range of vehicles and the impacted area of any accidents or problems. There will also need to be a human driver ready to take control of any vehicle that is being tested in the event that something does go wrong with a given A.I.-powered vehicle. That should help prevent a significant number of accidents already, but the rules go a step further. In the event that any accidents or problems do occur, the company responsible for the testing will have had to have agreed in advance to take responsibility in order to be allowed to conduct the test.
Meanwhile, the new testing conditions could cement the countries position in the self-driving automobile industry, helping to lend credence to earlier reported predictions which estimate China will be the world market leader in that particular technology. That is estimated to occur within a couple of decades but this move could see the country taking steps forward much more quickly if all goes well.