China: Two driverless cars began a 2,000-kilometre long test drive in China on Wednesday. The test drive is being done in competition with Google’s self-driving cars that the search engine giant is hoping to release by 2020. The vehicles are manufactured by a Chinese Chang'an Automobile Engineering & Research Institute.
Li Yusheng, engineer-in-chief said, the drive will help test the car functions in diverse conditions. Talking about the car’s overall driving performance, he said, “The vehicles have performed well in uncomplicated road conditions, such as urban driveways and highways, but they still need the help of a driver to navigate them in places like gas stations and toll booths.”
"We want to improve the vehicles' sensors and processing technology, and then to prepare models for mass production," Tan Benhong, deputy director of the institute was quoted as saying by the state-run Xinhua news agency.
The institute is planning to put its driverless cars into commercial use by 2018 and is targeting to give a competition to Google's currently under developing self-driving cars. It is worth noting that Google's driverless cars have already travelled over 1 million miles without crushing anyone under it.
Worldwide, at least 18 companies are developing autonomous cars, including BMW, Audi and Toyota. China's contenders include auto makers BAIC group, GAC Group, SAIC Motor, Chang'an and BYD.