China Just Held a Car Race Without Any Drivers – Bloomberg

What happened: A team from Beijing’s Tsinghua University has won a driverless car race in eastern China, outperforming state-owned auto manufacturers FAW and Beijing Electric Vehicle Co. The event, which took place in Tianjin, consisted of an off-road challenge, an urban race, and a highway contest. The race included obstacles like fake cows and artificial fog on a circuit covering the area of 10 soccer fields.

Why it’s important: The competition is meant to act as a driving force to spur China’s efforts in autonomous driving development. Chinese companies, including WeRide, Pony.ai, and Baidu, are looking to take on international rivals like Waymo, and are testing vehicles at home and abroad. California’s Department of Motor Vehicles (DMV) in February released data on autonomous vehicle tests that had taken place in the state, reporting the total number of “disengagements,” the frequency human drivers were required to take over. Pony.ai and Baidu logged 1,600 kilometers and 330 kilometers per disengagement, respectively. Meanwhile, Baidu’s AVs accounted for more than 90% of the total distance self-driving cars traveled in Beijing last year.

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Chris Udemans

Christopher Udemans is a Shanghai-based data and graphics reporter. He covers Chinese artificial intelligence, mobility, and cybersecurity. You can contact him at chrisudemans [at] technode [dot] com.