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MIT Technology Review

China’s new autonomous-vehicle rules let any of its cities test robo-cars

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The guidelines are another sign that the country wants to compete with America in developing driverless cars as quickly as possible.

What’s new: China’s industry ministry published a set of national guidelines regulating driverless-vehicle testing yesterday, reports Reuters. They join local guidelines for autonomous-vehicle trials, already in force in Beijing and Shanghai, and mean any city in China can now start testing self-driving cars in the real world.

Safety, safety, safety: In the wake of two recent, fatal crashes involving autonomous vehicles, it’s perhaps unsurprising that the rules are heavy on safety requirements. “To ensure the safety of road tests, we will not only require that road tests take place on prescribed streets, but also that the test driver sits in the driver position throughout, monitoring the car and the surrounding environment and ready to take control of the car at any time,” says Guobin Xin, China’s vice minister of industry.

Why it matters: Autonomous driving is one of the priorities of the nation’s ambitious industrial policy, Made in China 2025, and Chinese tech firms are going full-throttle in order to develop their own driverless cars as quickly as their American rivals. The new rules give them the green light to test more extensively than ever.