Chinese automaker and Ford’s partner Chongqing Changan Automobile Co. announced the successful road trip of its self-driving car. The vehicle traveled from Chongqing in Southwest China to Beijing, which is in the northeast.
The journey covered more than 1,200 miles (almost 2,000 kilometers) and lasted for six days – that’s an average of 200 miles (321.8 kilometers) a day. At least two of the company’s self-driving cars accomplished the journey where they took routes in a live environment.
In a statement given to the Shenzhen stock exchange, the Chinese automaker said that its self-driving cars have used cameras and radar that allowed the pair to test a number of varying functions. According to the company, the driverless cars were able to assess automatic cruising, assisted driving when there’s traffic congestion, lane keeping or changing and speed reduction by way of voice control and traffic sign recognition.
Li Yusheng, the project’s chief engineer, said that one car had even reached up to 75 mph on the nation’s open highway and managed to adapt to the changing road surface.
“The cars ran up to 120 km per hour on the highway, and adapted to the changing road surface,” said Li.
Kong Zhouwei, a car tester, said that when the self-driving cars passed through small tunnels that have dim or zero lighting, their response time was slower. Kong attributed the cars’ slow response rate to the difficulty in recognizing the road markings when the cars used their in-vehicle cameras after the external lights changed.
Kong said that the company plans to employ laser radar techniques in order to address this difficulty that the two cars encountered.
Other challenges that were seen during the road test included trucks that seemed wider than the lane and a couple of road sections and gas stations that required the cars to be under assisted driving.
Chongqing joins other Chinese companies such as Baidu, BYD, SAIC Motor, GAC Group and BAIC group in a global race to create self-driving cars with occasional or zero human intervention. The automaker plans to produce self-driving cars designed exclusively for traveling on highways and make them commercially available by 2018. It also plans to mass produce self-driving cars capable enough to navigate the nation’s complicated urban roads by 2025.
Around the globe, there are at least 18 companies that are developing autonomous cars. These include Toyota, Audi and BMW to name a few.