China to trial 50,000 self-driving cars per day

Image copyright China Automobile Manufacturers Association Image caption A Waymo self-driving vehicle in a mapping field in Arizona

Self-driving cars are taking to the streets of China for the first time in trials that could eventually hit 50,000 vehicles per day.

The Chinese National Development and Reform Commission (NDRC) said the fleet could eventually have a safety advantage over human-driven cars.

The cars being trialled will provide rides within a protected network with no steering wheel or pedals.

However, the Chinese government said this was still some way off.

The agency said this was mainly due to safety concerns.

It added that trials would continue for “a limited number of years” and said there were still a number of technical and legal issues needing to be solved.

‘World-class’

Any future trial fleet, which could be a boon for China’s carmakers, would be the first of its kind in China.

While self-driving cars are already on sale or being trialled on roads across the US, some countries, such as the UK, have yet to set out a set of rules to make such vehicles legal.

What are the potential risks and benefits of self-driving cars?

It would allow the driver to let go of the steering wheel in situations where they are unable to handle the car safely, such as when changing lanes.

These drivers could be rewarded with a wage for taking the time off work.

Self-driving cars can also do the driving automatically in bad weather, to cut down on the need for drivers to seek cover in the event of emergency.

The government added the advent of self-driving cars could also benefit the environment by cutting down on traffic and pollution and creating jobs.

Self-driving cars are still very early in development and are not yet common on the roads of China.

How often do people drive in China?

The frequency of drivers in China has been falling steadily in recent years, with the percentage of population now taking to the roads decreasing from 37% in 2000 to just 14% in 2015.

In the UK, by contrast, the average person drives at least four times a week.

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