Driverless Cars Will Soon Be Legal In China’s Silicon Valley

Often described as the Silicon Valley of China, Shenzhen will become the first city in the country to allow fully driverless cars from August 1.

Shenzhen will become the first city in China to allow fully driverless cars from August 1. Shenzhen is China’s fourth largest city with a population of around 18 million people. Often referred to as the Silicon Valley of China, Shenzhen is also one of the largest research, development and manufacturing centers for the country’s thriving tech sector and has also been one of the leaders in terms of innovation. The embrace of driver-less cars is yet another feather in the city’s cap.

Autonomous cars have long been tested on the roads of China, and especially in Shenzhen. Some of the companies that have been testing their autonomous driving technology in the city include, Baidu, DeepRoute, and AutoX, among others. However, local regulations thus far did not allow unmanned vehicles on city roads, which means all these vehicles needed human drivers to be at the wheel at all times. That, however, is all set to change next month when the first unmanned, driver-less, autonomous cars will take to the city streets, opening up a whole new chapter in the city’s history.


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An announcement to that effect was originally made earlier this month by the Standing Committee of Shenzhen’s Seventh Municipal People’s Congress following a landmark regulation passed by local lawmakers. The regulation, which is the first of its kind on the management of autonomous vehicles in China, specifies that cars with L3 autonomous driving abilities can now be operated on city streets after they are registered with the authorities. The permission, however, comes with a number of caveats and restrictions to safeguard civilians from rogue and faulty vehicles.

Requirements For Self-Driving Cars In Shenzhen

Car in China

For starters, the regulation categorizes autonomous driving into three types: conditionally automated driving, highly automated driving and fully automated driving. Cars fitted with the first two types of technologies must have a manual driving mode and a human driver at the wheel. Fully automated vehicles, meanwhile, would not need a manual driving mode, nor would it require a driver in the car. However, they can only be driven in specially designated areas of the city for the sake of public safety.

The regulation also specifies a few requirements that autonomous vehicles must comply with. First off, these vehicles must be outfitted with an external indicator light that should be switched on whenever it is operating in the autonomous driving mode. This is meant to be a warning to other road users, including motorists and pedestrians. The regulation also clarifies that in case of an accident, the driver, if present, will be held responsible as per existing laws. When a vehicle is operating without a driver, the operator or manager shall bear the responsibility. If, however, the accident happened due to a defect in the car, the owner or manager of the car will be eligible to seek compensation from the manufacturer.

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Source: Shenzhen Municipal People’s Congress

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