At the forefront of China’s quest for self-driving technology, Chongqing Changan Automobile Co. Ltd. proudly announced last month the completion of a 2,000-kilometer driving test of two of its autonomous cars.
The company is said to be seeking a partnership with Google to speed up the development of its technology.
Google announced Wednesday it will work directly with a carmaker for the first time to collect more data for its self-driving technology, but the partner the tech giant chose is Fiat Chrysler Automobiles (FCA).
FCA’s new Chrysler Pacifica Hybrid minivans will be designed specially to allow Google to easily install its self-driving system, including numerous sensors and software.
The collaboration will reportedly enable Google to collect more data from testing under complicated road conditions, such as when the road is covered with ice or when the surface is rocky.
Data ownership and terms of technology transfer are said to be key considerations for Google when forming an alliance.
The new tie-up does not mean Changan will have no chance of teaming up with Google.
In fact, Google’s test-driving program is still rather limited and requires more partners.
Meanwhile, China is tipped to become the biggest market for self-driving vehicles within two decades.
Three out of four mainland motorists in a survey said they would prefer to buy a self-driving car to a traditional one.
So, adding a Chinese firm to its partner list would make a lot of sense for Google.
That said, numerous Chinese companies, and not just carmakers, are beefing up their research in this field.
Internet behemoth Baidu Inc. has already joined the race. Tencent Holdings Ltd. (00700.HK) and Leshi Internet Information & Technology, also known as LeEco (formerly LeTV), are also said to be launching similar projects.
To win Google’s approval, Changan has a lot of work to do.
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