Chang’an Auto Sends Self-Driving Cars on 2,000km Cross-Country Trek


The international race towards creating self-driving cars has culminated with a Chinese auto maker sending two autonomous cars in a cross-country trip across China, the second-longest of its kind in the world.

Two driverless cars made by Chang’an Automobile have set out on a 1,790 kilometer trip that will take them from Chongqing to Beijing, a five-day journey. The test drive is second only to the 5,000 kilometer-long coast-to-coast run made by an Audi self-driving car in the US last year. If successfully completed, this will be the longest journey taken by a self-driving car in China. However, these self-driving cars won’t be completely autonomous.

“The vehicles have performed well in uncomplicated road conditions, such as urban driveways and highways, but they still need the help of a driver to navigate them in places like gas stations and toll booths,” said Li Yusheng, engineer-in-chief of Chang’an Automobile Engineering and Research Institute.

A Chang’an engineer and test driver named Kong Zhouwei explained further. “Our self-driving techniques are still someway from being driver-less in the true sense, but we are continuing to adopt mature techniques for mass-produced vehicles after developing, experimenting and road testing,” said Kong.

The race to develop self-driving cars has involved a number of car and tech companies worldwide. In China, companies like Guangzhou Automobile Group, Shanghai Automotive Industry Corp, BYD, and Alibaba have all announced their intention to develop autonomous driving vehicles.

Last December saw a successful 30 kilometer test run of a self-driving car on the highways of Beijing that was conducted by a collaboration between Baidu and BMW. Recently, Volvo announced an ambitious plan to initiate a massive experiment that would put 100 self-driving vehicles on Chinese roads.

Chang’an Automobile plans to put driver-less cars into commercial use by 2018.

Charles Liu

The Nanfang's Senior Editor