The residents of Shenzhen witnessed driverless cars on the road on 3rd December, courtesy of AutoX, a four-year-old startup backed by Alibaba, MediaTek, and Shanghai Motors. The company has deployed a fleet of 25 unmanned vehicles making it the first-ever incident of any autonomous driving car in China without safety drivers or remote operators on public roads.
The unmanned vehicles are meant as robotaxis, and they are a long way from being available to the public. This is a big step not only for the automobile manufacturer but also for China as a whole since it proves that the nation is pushing to bring its smart driving industry on par with the U.S. cities.
Only in July this year did AutoX won the world’s second and China’s only California fully driverless licence which represents the world’s highest level of technical safety requirements for driverless certification.
The first batch of the driverless fleet was launched using the FCA Chrysler Grand Jielong models. The vehicles come with the first software and hardware redundancy system that actively responds to brake failures and other car-related issues, along with providing solutions for such events.
“We have obtained support from the local government. Shenzhen is making a lot of rapid progress on legislation for self-driving cars,” said an AutoX representative. The decision to remove drivers and the absence of remote control certainly is a bold move. AutoX equips its vehicles with a proprietary vehicle control unit called XCU, which it claims has faster processing speed and more computational capability to handle the complex road scenarios in China’s cities. The XCU provides multiple layers of redundancy.
AutoX has been heavily funded so far; for example, it has raised more than $160 million to date. Other rival companies are also attempting to do something similar.