Public transit operator Shenzhen Bus Group has started testing four self-driving buses, equipped with software and sensors from Chinese firm Haylion Technologies, on a 1.2km loop in the city’s Futian district.
For the Shenzhen Bus trial, a human driver is stationed at the steering wheel, ready to take over if the vehicle encountered a situation that it cannot automatically handle.
Like electric cars and buses, which China have been actively promoting, self-driving vehicles are expected to be initially adopted by public transit operators on certain fixed routes.
Even if China’s laws allow for fully autonomous buses in future, a driver is still expected to be stationed on these vehicles, much like how automated high-speed trains have staff on-board to ensure the system runs smoothly, said Wu Zhengming, a partner of Frontt Capital Management, which focuses on the autonomous car industry.
Among the major Chinese technology companies working on self-driving vehicles, internet search engine operator Baidu has been investing the most aggressively, while forging key industry alliances.