Downtown roads newly opened for self-driving vehicle testing
Shanghai has opened downtown roads for self-driving testing in a boost to the burgeoning industry.
The Jinqiao Intelligent Connected Vehicle (ICV) Testing Demonstration Zone in the Pudong New Area was officially launched as a highlight of the World Artificial Intelligence Conference (WAIC), China's top AI event, being held from September 1 to 3.
Twelve roads covering a total distance of 29.3 kilometers, and with 57 major intersections equipped with traffic lights, are currently open for both regular traffic and self-driving testing, said Lin Yu, general manager of Jinqiao ICV Development Co.
Specifically, they are Dongjing Road, Shenjiang Road, Jufeng Road, Jinsui Road, Shangchuan Road, Minyao Road, Gutang Road, Huadong Road, Jinxiu Road E., Chuansha Road, Shengli Road and Lingkong Road N.
They are the first roads open to test self-driving vehicles in the downtown areas of a megacity in China, Lin said. Previously, Shanghai only allowed the testing of self-driving vehicles on public roads in its suburban areas, like Jiading, Fengxian and Lingang.
Yang Lei, an official from Alibaba-linked autonomous driving unit AutoX, said opening downtown roads will provide ample testing scenarios.
Traffic jams, violations and accidents are commonly seen in downtown areas, she said. These can help autonomous vehicles to absorb a variety of data to deal with different real-life scenarios, Yang added.
According to Lin Yu, scenarios such as driving into a garage and random delivery will be further tested.
One of the well-anticipated applications is that drivers can drop off their cars on arrival at a shopping mall, said Yan Junjie, deputy director of Jinqiao Management Bureau. The cars will then autonomously park in the garage and return to pick up the driver on call.
Yan revealed that next year an additional 30 kilometers of public roads will be opened for self-driving testing, taking the total length to about 60 kilometers. In a more ambitious plan, by 2025, a total of 60 square kilometers of area will be open for self-driving testing.
Statistics show that Shanghai had opened 615 roads, total distance of 1,289.83 kilometers, to test self-driving vehicles over 12,000 scenarios by the end of 2021, according to the annual report on Shanghai's ICV development issued by Shanghai Economy and Informatization Commission.
Since 2020, the auto sector has overtaken the electronic information manufacturing sector to become the No.1 industry in Pudong.
Consequently, Pudong is playing an increasingly important role in the city's auto industry landscape, from less than 30 percent in 2015 to nearly 50 percent in 2021.
During the three-day WAIC, more than 20 car firms like AutoX, WM Motor and Banma are inviting visitors to experience self-driving in designated areas of Jinqiao Intelligent Connected Vehicle (ICV) Testing Demonstration Zone.