The Chinese government will “revisit” communication standards for self-driving vehicles by 2018, with the goal of setting a common national standard for all automakers to follow.
Fu Yuwu, chief of the Society of Automotive Engineers of China (SAE-China), said the government will “lay the foundation” for vehicle-to-vehicle and vehicle-to-infrastructure communication by 2018. It will publish exact standards between 2020 and 2025.
China failed to mention self-driving cars in its 13th Five Year Plan, but SAE-China, under direction from the Ministry of Industry and Information Technology (MIIT), published a 450-page report that covered all aspects of transport, including self-driving.
The report did not define a national standard for communication, but it gave automakers new details on how to test cars on public roads and thoughts on artificial intelligence decisions while on the road.
The government and SAE-China will discuss standards with the automotive industry and experts in the field, before pushing an exact standard nationwide. All automotive companies will be forced to follow the standard in China, meaning General Motors and Ford may need to personalize cars for the Chinese market, if North American standards differ.
“You can’t fundamentally use different channels (of communication) right? So in the end we need a unification process,” Fu told Reuters. “This will be complicated and difficult but is in the best interests of the industry.”
China looking for foreign feedback?
China already has a few automakers testing self-driving cars, like Chang’an, SAIC, and Chery, alongside tech firms like Baidu and LeEco. The government will talk to them before making a final decision, and may speak to foreign automakers, like Ford and Volkswagen.
The U.S. has taken a different route to enabling self-driving vehicles, pushing for state legalization and funding, rather than a single federal standard. That has allowed automakers and tech firms to test autonomous systems quickly, but has also led to fragmentation on a state level, which may not be fixed anytime soon.