How does intelligent transportation change our lives?
The biggest headache for many people living in a metropolis is traffic. For example, in many Chinese cities, congestion is a common occurrence. Is there a way to crack it? Building more roads? Hiring more traffic police? Or auctioning the car plates?
The solution may lie in intelligent transportation.
Hands-free autonomous cars
Autonomous cars are not exposed to human error like distractions and cutting driving time. While the system takes over the controls, passengers are free to do whatever they want.
China has been taking the lead in testing and commercializing computer-assisted driving.
Autonomous vehicle startup AutoX, backed by Alibaba Group, recently announced the completion of its new automated production line of Level 4 fully driverless vehicles.
According to the Society of Automotive Engineers, Level 4 driving automation means the vehicles do not require human operation and are programmed to drive under certain conditions. The technology is usually used in public vehicles, such as driverless taxis and buses.
Tests with driverless taxis have been underway in many Chinese cities, including Beijing, Shanghai, Guangzhou and Shenzhen.
Tech giants, ride-hailing online platforms and traditional taxi companies all want a piece of the market.
Beijing approved commercial use of driverless taxi for the first time on November 25. The first user took a short ride of 2.1 kilometers and paid 1.24 yuan (19 US cents) after a discount.
Shanghai has issued road test licenses to 25 auto companies and 234 vehicles in total, topping all other cities nationwide.
Trial operation of Shanghai's first autonomous bus line was launched in the Lingang Special Area of China (Shanghai) Pilot Free Trade Zone in August. The 8.5-kilometer loop line with a total of eight platforms takes a bus 30 to 40 minutes to complete.
Shanghai riders have been able to hail a self-driving vehicle offered by Baidu's Apollo Go since September. Free rides are available at around 150 stations across Jiading District covering residential neighborhoods, commercial districts and office buildings.
Intelligent traffic lights
Not only are vehicles becoming smarter, but innovation also is occurring on the roadside. Instead of just being a timer, intelligent traffic lights can now change colors automatically based on traffic flow.
One example of its effective implementation is in Changsha, central China's Hunan Province. Intelligent traffic lights have been deployed at 35 crossroads where green lights would automatically turn into red lights as soon as cars left.
According to local media reports, the new lights significantly reduced green light waiting time by about 60 percent, enhanced traffic flow and reduced traffic congestion and accidents.
Have you had such experience? You were so absorbed in checking your mobile phone that you didn't notice you were running a red light. Today, the intelligent traffic lights and luminous crossing lines will remind you.
Ten crossroads in Shanghai, such as at the Bund and the National Exhibition and Convention Center, were equipped with luminous LED strips in 2018.
The strips turn red when a red light is on and go green with a green light on. If a pedestrian ignores the warning lights and walks onto the crossing, a column on the other side of the street facing the person will take pictures of the offender for the police to later issue a ticket.