China’s commercialization of autonomous driving takes a key step forward: new guidelines detail specifications and safety guarantees

China’s autonomous driving sector has reached an important milestone, with the General Office of the Ministry of Transportation and Communications (MOTC) releasing the Guidelines on Transportation Safety Services for Autonomous Vehicles (for Trial Implementation) today. The release of this guideline marks a further clarification of the norms for the commercialization and operation of self-driving cars, providing detailed and comprehensive guidance for the practical application of this cutting-edge technology.

Guidelines and rules: clarifying the scope of application and safety and security

For the first time, this guide clearly specifies the scope of application for self-driving vehicles, providing detailed instructions for different scenarios. Vehicles engaged in urban public bus and tram passenger transportation, taxi passenger transportation, road passenger transportation and road cargo transportation business activities must follow the relevant provisions of the guide in situations involving the passage of social motor vehicles on urban roads and highways.

To ensure the healthy development of the industry, the Guidelines also stipulate that enterprises engaged in related business activities must register as market players in accordance with the law and take out carrier liability insurance. This series of specifications aims to create a safe and sustainable self-driving car transportation ecosystem.

RoboTaxi Vehicle Safety Officer Staffing Rules Clarified

To ensure the safe operation of self-driving vehicles, the Guidelines further clarify the rules for the provision of safety officers in RoboTaxi vehicles. With approval, companies can equip remote safety officers, but the ratio must not be less than 1:3. This rule further contributes to the viability of self-driving technology in commercialized applications.

Safety and security in operation: accident recording and information disclosure

If technical problems, defects or hidden dangers are found during the operation of self-driving cars, self-driving transportation operators are required to report them to the relevant authorities in accordance with regulations. The competent authorities will assist the automobile manufacturer in investigating and rectifying the problem to ensure that potential safety hazards are eliminated in a timely manner.

In addition, vehicles need to be equipped with the function of recording, storing and transmitting real-time vehicle operating status information, and transmitting key operating status information in real time to transportation operators and relevant departments. This timely information-sharing mechanism will help to ensure road safety and promote the continuous improvement of the entire industry.

The system provides for a minimum of 90 seconds of incident logging, which includes, but is not limited to, the following information:

  • Vehicle identification (e.g., frame number or vehicle number plate information)
  • Vehicle control mode
  • Vehicle location
  • Vehicle speed, acceleration, direction of travel and other states of motion
  • Environmental Awareness and Response Status
  • Real-time status of vehicle lights and signals
  • 360-degree video surveillance of the exterior of the vehicle
  • In-vehicle video and voice monitoring reflecting the state of driver and human-computer interaction
  • Remote control commands received by the vehicle (if any)
  • Vehicle breakdowns (if any)

Looking ahead: the gradual approach of commercialization of autonomous driving

China's commercialization of autonomous driving takes a key step forward: new guidelines detail specifications and safety guarantees

The pace of commercial application of self-driving technology is moving into a clearer stage. In recent years, a number of Chinese cities have introduced policies that allow self-driving cars to operate commercially on a trial basis in specific areas and during specific time periods, including in the areas of urban public buses and trams, rental cars, and logistics and distribution. The issuance of this new guideline means that regulations and safety management have been further strengthened, bringing closer the moment for self-driving cars to play a bigger role in daily transportation.

It is expected that this technology will bring society a more convenient and efficient travel experience while improving traffic safety and optimizing transportation efficiency. As autonomous driving technology continues to evolve, we are ushering in a new, smarter era of transportation.

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