From Mercedes to BMW, everyone is revving up autonomous driving tech for China, not US. But why?

In a bizarre turn of events, autonomous driving, a feature that more than half of the world had believed would go mainstream in the US, is actually poised to go big in China first. Thanks to Tesla and the claims that it made for Autopilot or FSD, its full self-driving autonomous tech, people had assumed that car makers from around the world would invest heavily in the autonomous market in the US.

However, car manufacturers are intensifying their efforts to dominate the autonomous driving market, focusing on perfecting the technology to appeal to smart electric vehicle (EV) buyers in China.

BMW, Mercedes, VW and local players – everyone’s betting big on China
Prominent global car brands like BMW and Volkswagen, along with Chinese EV startups such as Xpeng and Jidu, are increasing their investments in driverless technology to enable cars to navigate city streets autonomously.

China has emerged as a leading force in developing self-driving cars, driven by the growing interest of drivers and passengers in autonomous technology. However, international carmakers are striving to catch up with Chinese domestic players, particularly in the development of car navigation software.

BMW recently revealed that its China research and development team is working on an autonomous driving system at Level 3 (L3) for the Chinese market. They aim to have it ready for commercial use either later this year or in early 2024. Mercedes-Benz, a German competitor, also disclosed its ongoing testing of its proprietary L3 system in February.

The various levels of autonomous driving
L3 represents the lowest level of autonomous driving, allowing drivers to take their attention off the road safely under certain traffic conditions without needing to keep their hands on the steering wheel, as per the standards set by SAE International. It is considered the next practical step for passenger cars in terms of autonomous capabilities.

Despite not being officially approved in China yet, some carmakers, such as Xpeng based in Guangzhou, have received permission to use their advanced driver assistance systems on a trial basis for commercial use.

More difficult than it looks
A key and complex component of self-driving technology is lidar (light detection and ranging sensor), which employs pulsed lasers to create a 3D map of the vehicle’s surroundings. Chinese EV manufacturers, including Li Auto and Aito (backed by Huawei Technologies), have widely adopted this technology in their vehicles.

Xpeng has equipped some of its cars with the X NGP (Navigation Guided Pilot) software, allowing them to achieve autonomous driving in China’s major cities, including Beijing, Shanghai, Guangzhou, and Shenzhen. The company plans to extend this capability to “dozens of cities” throughout mainland China later this year.

China is the world’s largest market for electric vehicles, and UBS predicts that EV deliveries in the country will reach 8.8 million units in 2023, a 35 percent increase from the previous year.

Li Zhenyu, the vice-president of Baidu, a leading artificial intelligence firm in China that is also involved in autonomous driving technology, stated in April that by 2026, mainland customers would be less likely to consider vehicles without intelligent driving capabilities, as such vehicles would become more widespread in the market by that time.

Read More | Source: Firstpost

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *