China: Chinese officials have told autonomous car manufacturers to forbid testing of the vehicles on country’s highways until it is permitted by the law. The head of the Ministry of Industry and Information Technology, She Weizhen, said the ministry and police have a preliminary draft of the guidelines, according to Automotive News. However, Weizhen did not divulge a timeline for the implementation of final rules.
The move is an intriguing one, because — until this announcement — Chinese officials were keen to champion autonomous driving technology and its implementation. Though it’s not been specifically articulated, it’s not hard to presume the recent crashes, one of which resulted in a fatality, involving Tesla’s beta-tested semi-autonomous driving system, Autopilot, could have spurred the move for the moratorium on autonomous car testing.
Clearly, China wishes to avoid such tragedies by laying out ground rules for carmakers. And that’s the crux of the issue here in the U.S., without any federal guidelines, Tesla beta testing Autopilot on its owners is legal. American regulators have tried to stay out of the way of development of autonomous tech for fear regulation could stifle it.
China plainly is concerned more with public safety than it is with innovation when it comes to self-driving cars.