China releases first autonomous vehicle road testing report

Beijing recently issued the “Beijing Autonomous Vehicle Road Testing Report 2018”; the first report on autonomous vehicle road testing in China. The Report releases information and data derived from road tests by 56 cars from eight companies (Baidu, NIO, BAIC BJEV, Daimler, Pony.ai, Tencent, Audi, and Didi Chuxing) in both enclosed areas and open roads in Beijing during 2018.

In this short blog post we consider the information that is, and is not, included in the Report.

  • Beijing keeps expending its testing areas

According to the Report (available here), Beijing has opened 44 roads in 4 districts with a total distance of 123 km for autonomous vehicle testing since February 2018 and is the leading city in China. Beijing has built and opened the first V2X reversible testing road with a distance of 12 km, combining traffic light systems, intellectual sensor systems and connected autonomous vehicles to provide an integrated testing environment. And it is planned that autonomous vehicle testing areas in Beijing will expand to 500 km2, which includes open roads covering more than 2,000 km in 2022.

  • Baidu tops industry peers in road testing

In the Report, which includes results from 8 companies, Baidu tops industry peers with the most test license plates (45), the most test vehicles on road (45), the longest distance driven (140,000 km), and the most diverse test scenarios.

  • No disengagement data

The Report includes two categories of test data: the number of test cars and the distance travelled by those cars.  Significantly, no data is provided regarding disengagement. ‘Disengagement’ includes situations in which a self-driving vehicle’s systems are unable to process current conditions, forcing it to pass control back to the human driver, and also where a human manually retakes the wheel or overrides a car’s decision also count as disengagements.

This decision is interesting for two reasons.  First, this data is available; all disengagement data is required to be reported to an authorized third-party institution (i.e. the Beijing Innovation Centre for Intelligent Mobility) on a monthly basis.

Second, the absence of this data means that it is not possible to calculate the “miles per disengagement” (MPD) achieved by each company (ie. the distance travelled by the automated system before human intervention was required).  This metric is considered by many commentators to be a more measure of safety than distance travelled alone.  Notably, disengagement data is included in the annual reports published by the Californian Department for Motor Vehicles.

It will be interesting to see whether this data is included in subsequent reports.

  • Categories of disengagement

Although no technical data is provided regarding disengagement, the Report does identify four categories of disengagement that have occurred during the testing:

  • system failure caused by sensor failure, map loading anomaly, positioning deviation, system delay anomaly, data logging device failure;
  • strategic deviancies caused by obstacle identification errors, social vehicle behavior prediction errors, path planning errors, vehicle stagnation;
  • expected take-over caused by vehicles illegally occupying lanes, non-motorized roads and construction; and
  • manual take-over caused by engineers changing equipment, engineers re-calculating path.

This Report provides a unique insight into the testing of autonomous vehicles in Beijing since testing regulations were first published in December 2017.  While it is regrettable that not all available information is included, the Report nevertheless provides interesting information relating to the testing and evaluation equipment scenarios, roads, and more importantly the problems encountered by the testing companies, including reasons for disengagement.  We would look forward to seeing more reports being released by other cities in China where testing is taking place.

 

Nanda Lau
Nanda Lau
Partner, Shanghai
+86 21 2322 2117
James Gong
James Gong
Senior Associate, Beijing
+86 10 6535 5106
James Allsop
James Allsop
Senior Associate, Tokyo
+81 3 5412 5409

CONNECTED AND AUTONOMOUS VEHICLES: IS CHINA READY?

Regulation of autonomous vehicles in China is moving fast. The recent municipal and national road testing rules have laid the foundation for Testing Entities to test their autonomous driving systems in China. We expect to see intensive testing activities in major cities in China in the coming months and more test permits being granted. In choosing the right location for road testing, Testing Entities should ensure they are aware of the applicable regulatory regime, the nuances of the relevant road testing rules and the approach taken by local governments and Authorized Institutions in implementing those rules.  The regulatory landscape in China is still developing and requires carefully navigation if companies are to be able to successfully test their vehicles.

Read more

CHINA AUTONOMOUS DRIVING: ANALYSIS OF THE FIRST ROAD TESTING RULES RELEASED IN BEIJING

On 18 December 2017, the first road testing regulations for autonomous driving vehicles (ADVs) in China were released in Beijing (Beijing Regulations). The Beijing Regulations have been issued jointly by the departments responsible for transport, traffic police and industry in Beijing (Beijing Authorities). In the absence of nationwide regulations, the Beijing Regulations mark the first step taken by the government to permit and regulate road testing activities for ADVs in China. Although the Beijing Regulations have been implemented on a trial basis, they are set to influence the drafting of road testing regulations by local governments outside Beijing and, potentially, nationwide.

In this article, we set out the current legal environment for ADV road testing and highlight the key points that companies should pay attention to in respect of the Beijing Regulations.

Read more