China has stepped up its efforts to speed up the commercialization of autonomous cars in the country. According to a report in China Daily, the authorities in Shanghai have issued the country's first permits to conduct operational tests of smart and connected cars. The permits were issued to Shanghai-based SAIC Motor Group, BMW AG and China's car-hailing giant Didi Chuxing. As per the permit provided by the authorities, each of the companies can test 50 vehicles with autonomous technology in the city of Shanghai. After six months of testing, the permit holders will be able to increase the number of vehicles in the testing fleet if there are no traffic violations.
According to the report, Shanghai opened up its first road section for testing smart and connected vehicles in March 2018, and so far the roads have a combined length of 53.6 kilometers, covering 1,580 different scenarios. A total of 11 companies have received the permits from the city's authorities.
BMW has set up autonomous driving R&D teams in Shanghai and Beijing, composed of nearly 100 engineers. SAIC too has showcased that it has Level 4 autonomous driving technology vehicles. Didi too is looking to introduce robo-taxis in cities like Beijing, Shanghai and Shenzhen, by 2020.
There has been quite a lot of controversy around autonomous cars, given that there still is no proper legislation around them. Though companies like Audi and even Mercedes-Benz are ready with Level 4 autonomous cars, they have not been able to ply these products on the road. With more manufacturers researching this technology, there's certainly a case building for autonomous cars worldwide and we'll soon see more automakers pumping in money in this technology.