Now that China has issued a long-term (but not too long!) roadmap about autonomous vehicles on sale by 2021, what message does this say to the World?
When the Worlds largest Automobile market makes a statement like this, surely that is the clearest signal to us all, that Driverless / Autonomous / Self Driving cars will happen. I admit, I am sure like many people, that every day I have, "will it" / "won't it" happen moments.
The Chinese 450 page roadmap, has been issued by the official Society of Automotive Engineers of China - The SAEC.
This document determines the development of every aspect of the Chinese automotive industry leading up to 2030.
It covers these developments in full co-operation and consensus with the Chinese Automotive industry for self driving cars. However it is clearly a Chinese country led document and will not cover their rapid development target within Europe/USA and other Asian Regions.
The SAEC report has made it very clear that they want to act as quickly as possible to form a common understanding on all aspects of smart connected vehicle technology.
Their intent is that automated / assisted driving technology should be in every car by 2026 to 2030, in some form, but the first introduction will be in 2021.
We should not doubt the intent of China and this roadmap document. When China decide to do something, they do not hang about talking about it for decades.
In 2005, China decided to start planning for the use of renewable energy resource. Just 10 years later they now have the world’s largest solar and wind power installations.
Despite the economic decline over the last 2 years, China still has the investment and manpower resources to achieve massive project developments very quickly.
Chinese Internet giant and Autonomous vehicle developer, Baidu, will be pleased, having done 30KM testing in Beijing last year with excellent results. This is despite the issue concerning the lack of mapping detail in China, which whilst being good in Beijing, is not so good outside of the larger main cities.
But, it isn’t all China in the lead however, more of a catch up. In fact quite a few miles are needed to catch up with Google / Waymo
Because detailed mapping is far more detailed in the majority of the U.S. and Western Europe, this has allowed Western manufacturers to develop their technology over the last 6 years. Google’s well known Driverless car program for example, has been tested for well over 1.5 million miles since 2009. Also the company expects to be selling cars by 2020, probably becoming the early leader.
Tesla has also announced this month that all their new vehicles will be equipped with equipment for autonomous driving, such as Radar/ Lidar / Cameras.
Tesla have experienced a tragic issue, but have addressed the causes and are now strongly aiming to be a leader of this emerging market.
But, we need to ask, who has the most to gain from the implication of Autonomous vehicles? Possibly China, who have massive road congestion problems, which will only ever be on the increase, plus a huge road death and accident rate.
So, is Chinas Self Driving Roadmap for 2021, the Autonomous vehicle industries biggest plus sign yet? Will China dominate this industry in the 2020s?
On balance, for my money, it looks like the USA, China and possibly Western Europe will all be in a similar place by that time and who knows, even talking to each other!
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