Internet, auto tycoons seek standards for self-driving cars
China should set technology standards to regulate self-driving cars, two Internet and automobile gurus told an annual gathering of the country's top political advisory body on Thursday.
"Most of the existing laws and regulations do not fit the development of self-driving vehicles," said Robin Li, a member of the National Committee of the Chinese People's Political Consultative Conference and CEO of Internet giant Baidu.
In his proposal for the upcoming annual session of the CPPCC, the 47year-old said a lot of regulations and industry standards are needed to fill the void, and the authorities should lead the project.
Also submitting a similar proposal was auto tycoon Li Shufu, chairman of Zhejiang Geely Holding Group. "We need to move fast to set up a legal framework," he said in his proposal. "The self-driving technology brings challenges and opportunities to the Chinese auto industry."
Baidu's Li agreed. The central government needs to draw a road map for self-driving technology, provide more financial support and encourage Chinese automakers and Internet companies to build joint research and development projects.
Baidu tested its self-driving technology in late 2015 and is planning to put driverless cars on the road in the next three years.
Using an automatic steering system and a number of sensors attached to the vehicle, the car can detect obstacles and travel as fast as 100 kilometers per hour.
Both Baidu and Geely face competition from overseas tech giants, including Google, Tesla and Daimler in the self-driving market.
After years of investment from global tech giants such as Baidu and Google, the technology is almost ready, according to Shen Haibin, an analyst from Beijing-based investment bank China Galaxy Securities.
"An auto-piloting car combines a long list of advanced technologies that cover navigation, artificial intelligence, high-accuracy positioning and more," Shen said. "The industry is set to enjoy a bright future."
The Ministry of Industry and Information Technology, an industry watchdog, is taking steps to draw up national standards for the emerging technology, which ties cars to the mobile Internet.
Minister Miao Wei said last year that the government is carefully studying new trends in the self-driving sector and will come up with regulations and policies.
"An error of a millimeter could cause disastrous consequences in this area," Miao said. "We have to be extremely careful." Roughly 20 million fully self-driving vehicles are expected to hit the road worldwide by 2025, with consumer adoption set to take off in 2021, according to Juniper Research, a consultancy in the United Kingdom.