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China pumps the brakes on autonomous-car testing for now

It shouldn't take long to get rules in place, but it'll still slow down development.

Volvo XC90

Volvo's already putting a fair number of its eggs in the Chinese-testing basket, and there's room for more.


China has called a temporary halt to autonomous vehicle testing while it finalises regulations for self-driving vehicles.

The US is currently in the midst of developing a national regulatory framework for semi-autonomous and autonomous vehicles, but there are still vehicles of this kind being tested in states that allow it. China's waters are equally murky in this respect, but the country is asking for a moratorium on autonomous development until its regulations are in place.

She Weizhen, head of the Chinese government's autos arm, said an early version of autonomous-car regulation has been drafted, but there's no firm date as to when plans will actually be implemented, Bloomberg reports. In the interim, regulators have asked automakers to avoid testing their self-driving vehicles on highways.

Several companies have already planted R&D seeds in the Middle Kingdom. Volvo wants to put ordinary citizens behind the autonomous wheel, and one of China's own companies, Chongqing Changan Automobile Co., made a 1,200-mile trip in a car piloted by radar and cameras. Development will slow down due to this push to keep cars off highways, but it shouldn't delay efforts by years.

The US is working to develop its own set of national rules, because the current patchwork of state-by-state regulations means autonomous car development can only take place in certain states. No matter your opinion of the cars themselves, it's a wise idea to get some rules in place before statistics work against us and something happens.

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