China tests self-driving vehicles in a mountain highway in Shandong
China is currently testing self-driving and connected vehicles in a mountain highway in eastern Shandong province, South China Morning Post reported.
The local Qilu Transportation Development Group earmarked a 26-kilometer-long highway for autonomous driving and vehicle-to-infrastructure communication, in cooperation with partners including Chinese vendor Huawei Technologies and China Mobile, one of the country’s largest mobile operators.
The test section is a mountain highway with three tunnels, a bridge and three toll stations, providing different testing scenarios, according to the report. Equipment such as road sensors, laser and microwave radars, panoramic video surveillance, were tested. Tests also include weather monitoring and traffic signs that can communicate with vehicles.
The project stipulates the construction of a world-class testing, research and development center and incubator for self-driving cars by 2023.
China is targeting for smart vehicles to account for half of all new cars sold in the domestic market by 2020, and for 90% of highways in large cities to support vehicle-to-vehicle and vehicle-to-infrastructure communications, according to a plan by the National Development and Reform Commission.
Chinese companies are engaged in the development of autonomous driving technologies. Earlier this year, Huawei and 13 of China’s leading carmakers, including SAIC and BYD, issued a cellular vehicle-to-anything (C-V2X) road map.
Baidu, which has invested heavily in autonomous driving, last year introduced a service that enables vehicles to interact with roads and traffic lights using sensors and computer vision technology.
A research by McKinsey suggests autonomous vehicles could, at some point, take over most of the automotive market in China. According to the firm, fully autonomous vehicles (SAE Level 4 and above) will see mass deployment in China in nine or ten years.
“China has the potential to become the world’s largest market for autonomous vehicles. In our base forecast, such vehicles could account for as much as 66% of the passenger-kilometers traveled in 2040, generating market revenue of $1.1 trillion from mobility services and $0.9 trillion from sales of autonomous vehicles by that year. In unit terms, that means autonomous vehicles will make up just over 40% of new vehicle sales in 2040, and 12% of the vehicle installed base,” McKinsey said in a previous report.
“In the short term, given China’s complex traffic environment, autonomous vehicles must adapt to road conditions and aggressive driving behaviors, which could slow adoption. However, a review of traffic severity worldwide reveals China’s problem as one of degree, not kind. Western cities from downtown New York to Rome have similarly dense populations and levels of mixed traffic”
“Consequently, the technology solution in China for autonomous driving will not differ much from those in other nations. Required computing platforms will likely conform because existing platforms feature enough “buffer” capacity to handle the more complex computing tasks required to analyze objects on Chinese roads. Sensor configurations would probably not change from region to region because current setups can cover all critical directions across very different driving use cases,” the report added.