A slew of Chinese firms have already entered the self-driving car arena or are planning to do so.
Not many have published details of their progress.
Chongqing Changan Automobile Co. Ltd. is one company that has given a detailed report on what it has achieved so far.
Last month, Changan proudly announced the completion of its Chongqing-to-Beijing test drive of two of its self-driving sedans.
However, the truth is those vehicles were not always driving on their own during the 2,000-kilometer journey.
Changan’s vehicles can indeed drive, accelerate, decelerate and brake autonomously most of the time, but there are situations they still cannot handle.
For instance, when driving past toll booths, human intervention is needed.
Inside certain tunnels, when the light is bad, or when humidity takes its toll on road markings, Changan’s autopiloting cars also reportedly called for help, as they could not read the path properly.
Sensors, radar and software are areas that need to be enhanced.
Collection of more data about driving in real-world conditions is also a pressing task.
For starters, road conditions are different everywhere.
Handling extremely steep or curvy roads is far more demanding on the sensing and turning system, for example.
Then, variations among road signs in different parts of the country (in font, size or color) could also pose a serious challenge to the ability of self-driving cars to recognize them correctly.
Judging from these reports on the mainland front-runner in self-driving technology, Chinese firms still have a lot to do to catch up with global giants like Google Inc.
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