Updated: 15:28 IST
AutoX, a Chinese autonomous vehicle startup, backed by Alibaba Group Holding Ltd, Dongfeng Motor Group Co Ltd and SAIC Motor Corp Ltd, started its fully driverless vehicle testing in China on Thursday with Pacifica minivans from Fiat Chrysler Automobiles NV (FCA).
A fleet of 25 driverless vehicles in Shenzhen and 5 in other cities will be used by AutoX to test the technology.
Prior to this big breakthrough, Shenzhen-based AutoX had modified and tested many vehicles from various manufacturers in Shenzhen, Shanghai, Guangzhou, Wuhan and Wuhu. In July, AutoX tested a passenger vehicle on public roads in California without a safety driver in the front, becoming the second firm after Alphabet Inc’s Waymo to do so.
In China, Toyota-backed Pony.ai and Didi Chuxing are testing autonomous cars as well in China but with one or two safety staff onboard to take control in unexpected situations. AutoX’s rivals WeRide and Baidu have also been testing their driverless vehicles in China but they have a remote centre to control their vehicles if needed. But AutoX will not have any such remote centre.
“We think with current communications infrastructure, remote control brings safety issues as 5G signals are not stable yet and hackers might attack the vehicles,” said AutoX Chief Executive Xiao Jianxiong
AutoX’s permit to start the driverless vehicle testing is a big breakthrough for automakers and technology firms that are investing billions of dollars in autonomous driving, something that many consider the future of mobility.
Inputs from Reuters
Edited by Madhurima Dutta