Pudong issues detailed rules for driverless vehicles on open roads

Ke Jiayun Li Qian
Pudong New Area on Wednesday released a guideline with detailed rules for driverless vehicles to follow while on the road, paving the way for large-scale commercial application.
Ke Jiayun Li Qian
Pudong issues detailed rules for driverless vehicles on open roads
Ti Gong

Shanghai's Pudong New Area has released detailed rules to encourage unmanned driving on open roads.

Detailed rules have been released in a bid to clear the way for driverless vehicles on the streets in Shanghai's Pudong New Area.

In other words, it won't be long before these futuristic scenes become a reality: Only with a tap on your mobile phone, you can book an unmanned taxi; and several unmanned buses will be available to shuttle you between Metro stations and nearby commercial zones.

Unmanned driving is not new, but in most cases, it is still in the testing stage, on trial or operating in selected areas. Lack of legislation is widely considered as a major reason restricting its large-scale commercial application.

To make up for the legal shortcoming, Pudong on Wednesday released a guideline with detailed rules for driverless vehicles to follow while on the road.

Meanwhile, eight industrial players were granted permits to start unmanned delivery, shuttle services and other driverless vehicle-related applications on open roads this year, becoming the first to do so in Pudong. Domestic technology company Neolix is one of them.

With the permit, the company expects to promote its autonomous vending-machine vehicles.

"Thanks to the newly issued regulations and guideline, we will soon enter the test phase. After meeting the road test's time and mileage requirements, we can further explore and then launch formal commercial operation," said Huang Hantao, director of the government affairs department of Neolix.

Huang added: "In recent years, we have formed cooperation with fast food chains KFC and McDonald's, express providers SF Express and ZTO as well as some other enterprises in the use of our autonomous vending-machine vehicles. Shanghai's new regulations provide a sound legal protection for the development of the industry."

Pudong issues detailed rules for driverless vehicles on open roads
Jiang Xiaowei / SHINE

Neolix's autonomous vending-machine vehicle (center)

Taking "determination of responsibility" as an example, the detailed rules clarify that if a traffic accident occurs on a driverless car, police should follow road traffic safety laws and regulations to determine who should own responsibility.

"That clears our worries about the commercial operation of driverless vehicles on open roads. At present, we are setting detailed business plans and will launch applications in Pudong's Lingang, Zhangjiang, Jinqiao and other places in the future. I believe everyone will gradually find some low-speed unmanned vehicles on non-motorized lanes to provide convenient services for citizens," Huang observed.

Lin Yu, general manager of Shanghai Jinqiao Intelligent Connected Vehicle Development Co, said that based on the guideline, Pudong will soon create five unmanned driving scenarios, namely driverless taxis, driverless shuttle buses, automatic parking, unmanned delivery and 'Cloud' traffic data sharing.

"This will not only push forward the industrial agglomeration, but also provide convenience in people's life," Lin remarked.

In September last year, Shanghai issued an action plan, aimed at building China's leading intelligent connected vehicle innovation and development system with a market scale of 500 billion yuan (US$73.3 billion) by 2025.

Han Dadong, director of the intelligent manufacturing department of the Shanghai Economic and Information Commission, said that in recent years, Shanghai has opened 926 roads, covering 1,800 kilometers, in areas such as Pudong as well as suburban Jiading and Fengxian districts to provide testing for autonomous driving.

Shanghai now ranks first in the country for the number of companies conducting tests, the number of licenses issued, the mileage of open roads and the variety of products, he added.

According to Han, next, city-level authorities will cooperate with Pudong to build a domestic unmanned driving ecosystem with the most complete industrial chain, the highest technical level, and the best scenarios.

The city will support Pudong to build a full industrial chain ecology as well as accelerate the implementation of innovative applications and exploring the application of cutting-edge technologies such as 5G.

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