China has set out national standards for testing smart autonomous cars on roads, which aims to speed up the technology’s development in the country.
China Daily reports that around a dozen regional governments have issued their guidelines on road tests of autonomous vehicles, with the first released in Beijing in December 2017, but there had not been one at the national level before the set of standards were released.
It says local standards had varied by region, posing barriers for companies that would like to conduct tests in different places, so a set of national standards was required to solve the problem. The new standards covers tests of vehicles in 34 traffic situations, such as slowing down after detecting speed limit signs and stopping when spotting pedestrians ahead.
Commenting on this, John Frazer, Chief Communication Officer at the Decentralised Autonomous Vehicles Foundation, said, “The moves in China are a welcome and overdue effort by a central government to harmonise an autonomous vehicle ecosystem. As we have also seen in other parts of the world, trials and proof of concepts have been highly regionalised. As a result, these have frequently lacked the level of interoperability needed to make autonomous ground and air-based vehicles viable.
“The future of driverless and pilotless vehicles is already a fragmented one. The very nature of it means it is comprised of a variety of different manufacturers, technologies and types of craft. Therefore, a common set of standards and protocols is an essential grounding influence on a nascent industry. It will ensure a more viable autonomous vehicle environment, where different devices can communicate, charge and transact in a common way. However, we need globally adopted, or at least globally interoperable, standards to drive adoption.
“Imagine if every gasoline car manufacturer fitted a different shape of fuel inlet to a car. Without common standards and protocols, there is a risk of similar regional variations hampering adoption and growth – both physically and digitally. China’s efforts to regularise development with a common standards base is a strategy that other countries, as well as vehicle manufacturers, can learn from as they begin to make capital investments in smart infrastructure, services and vehicles.
“With the autonomous vehicle space still being so new, no-one can be sure where the next big breakthrough will come from, so the more people that are capable of developing this technology and expanding the ecosystem, the closer we get as a community to making autonomous vehicles a reality. Common standards are an important part of achieving that.”