China’s Self-Driving Cars Hit the Roads

Jacob Nguyen

Recently, a Chinese automobile company, AutoX, announced the introduction of self-driving cars onto the public roads of Shenzhen, China. The company said that they were the first Chinese company to reach this milestone. 

Previously, self-driving cars that were operating on public roads had to have a safety driver inside. However, with the release of 25 local cars on the roads of Shenzhen, the government has decided to remove the previous restrictions of having a safety driver on this road after countless improvements.

The company has released a video of a minivan navigating through the city area. It carried around packages and allowed passengers to enter the backseat. The video shows the car navigating trucks, passing pedestrians and performing U-turns. 

After working for many years, the CEO of AutoX, Jianxiong Xiao, decided that the system was mature enough to be independent of a driver. They managed to improve the system over many years until it was able to win over the regulators. AutoX hopes to be able to expand the program onto regular passages in the next couple of years. Though AutoX is the only company to have introduced fully self-driving cars in the country of China, they have managed to gain permission to run tests over some roads in San Jose, Calif. 

And with the need for contactless services, China’s government was encouraged to move faster with self-driving technology. Overall, AutoX has sent a total amount of 100 robotaxis in cities such as Wuhan and Shanghai. 

Though the autonomous industry faces many challenges that await on the roads of the future, the CEO of AutoX estimates that it would take around another five years before unmanned taxis possibly become the norm on Chinese roads. 

As technology continues to evolve exponentially, AI is becoming more and more prevalent in our everyday lives. But when will it truly be safe to fall asleep in the backseat of a self-driving car? A Hamilton High School sophomore student, who wanted to remain anonymous, stated that, “No, I wouldn’t trust self-driving cars because I don’t trust technology more than myself.” Though there are still concerns about the safety of cars being driven by AI, it is clear that the self-driving car industry will continue to expand and shape the future of our roads.