Autonomous companies are increasing their investments and accelerating their innovations

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A self-driving bus is tested in downtown Guangzhou, south China’s Guangdong Province, July 26, 2022. Residents can book a free trial ride through their cellphones. A safety supervisor will be present on each bus equipped with a red emergency brake button, directional laser sensors and high-definition 360-degree surveillance cameras. Photo: CGV

Several Chinese self-driving companies have announced new investments and the arrival of self-driving taxi services after the country’s first smart vehicle regulations came into effect Monday in Shenzhen, south China’s Guangdong province. , learned the Global Times.

These milestones indicate that China’s self-driving technology is now accelerating to reach the advanced stage as a global leader, analysts said.

On Tuesday, Chinese electric car maker Xpeng Motors announced the completion of Fuyao, China’s largest self-driving intelligence center, in Ulanqab, north China’s Inner Mongolia Autonomous Region, for the autonomous driving model training, in collaboration with Alibaba.

The data center is based on Alibaba Cloud’s intelligent computing platform, with a total computing power of 600 petaFLOPS (PFLOPS), and it will increase the training speed of XPeng’s standalone base model by 170 times, said the company to the Global Times on Tuesday. .

A computer system at one PFLOPS can perform a quadrillion floating point operations per second.

Separately, self-driving technology company Pony.ai said it will enter into an agreement with public transport company Cao Cao Mobility to promote the large-scale landing of self-driving taxi services.

From Wednesday, users in Beijing can book the Robotaxi service provided by Pony.ai through the Cao Cao app. The self-driving taxi service now covers the 60 square kilometer area of ​​Beijing’s high-level self-driving demonstration area in Yizhuang, with 250 self-driving drop-off and drop-off stations, which can meet most travel needs, said Pony.ai. .

An autonomous Pony.ai fleet in the Beijing Economic and Technological Development Zone, Beijing, on April 13, 2021. Photo: CFP

An autonomous Pony.ai fleet in the Beijing Economic and Technological Development Zone, Beijing, on April 13, 2021. Photo: CFP

China’s first regulation designed for the management of smart and connected vehicles entered into force on Monday, which closed the legal loophole for domestic smart connected vehicles and clarified the rules of liability and car insurance coverage.

Business investment and regulatory breakthroughs indicate that China’s self-driving technology is accelerating from Tier 2 to Tier 3, said Zhang Xiang, a researcher at the Automotive Industry Innovation Research Center of China. North China University of Technology, to the Global Times on Tuesday.

While Level 2 contains partial automation, such as automatic parking systems, Level 3 offers conditional autonomous driving, meaning drivers can take their hands off the wheel for a period of time, Zhang said.

The Tier 3 technology is expected to have broad application prospects, with a strong demand for self-driving taxis and trucks, which can reduce logistics and travel costs.

Zhang said some self-driving car companies have tested self-driving taxis that use Tier 3 or higher technology. But the cost of autonomous vehicles still needs to be reduced to achieve mass application.

Experts say China’s self-driving vehicle industry is accelerating into the fast lane as the world’s leading player.

“Although the United States started relatively early in chips and algorithms, China has the advantage of having a broader base of start-ups and more complete industrial chains, which will help it to market more. cutting-edge technologies easily,” Zhang said.

According to the New Energy Vehicle Industry Development Plan (2021-35) issued by the State Council, highly autonomous vehicles will be used commercially in limited areas and specific scenarios by 2025.

China has designated more than 5,000 kilometers of roads for self-driving tests, and it has also issued more than 900 test licenses, Guo Shougang, an official with the Ministry of Industry and Technology, said Monday. information, at a forum on Internet-connected vehicles in Beijing. .

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