Many industries will benefit from the new smart car strategy, including artificial intelligence chips, sensors, data and smart transport. Credit: CAR Magazine.

While Covid-19 has arguably grabbed all the major headlines over the last few weeks, China has quietly taken a quantum leap that could put it strides ahead of other nations — releasing an ambitious blueprint to develop standards for autonomous vehicles by 2025, China.org.cn reported.

A total of 11 ministerial-level authorities, including the National Development and Reform Commission and the Ministry of Industry and Information Technology, developed the document called the Strategy on Developing Smart Vehicles.

According to the blueprint, China will basically finish its set of standards for autonomous vehicles covering such aspects as technological innovation, infrastructure, legislation, supervision and network safety by 2025, the report said.

Analysts say if successful it could generate vast investment opportunities and transform the country’s automotive industry, the report said.

Specifically, the country sets a target to realize “scale production of vehicles capable of conditional autonomous driving and commercialization of highly autonomous vehicles in certain circumstances.”

It also expects to achieve progress by that year in smart transport and smart city programs.

According to the blueprint, some regions in the country will have full access to the LTE-V2X wireless network for vehicles and the new-generation wireless network for vehicles, the 5G-V2X, will be gradually adopted in some cities and expressways by 2025, the report said.

Some Chinese and foreign companies including Audi, Changan, and GM have been testing V2X technologies in China over the past few years.

The blueprint said China is expected to build a complete and sound set of standards for autonomous vehicles between 2035 and 2050, the report said.

“China has strategic advantages to develop autonomous vehicles,” said the blueprint.

Li Jun, a member of the Chinese Academy of Engineering, said in addition to the automotive sector, many industries will benefit from the new strategy, including artificial intelligence chips, sensors, data and smart transport, the report said.

According to Beijing News, the autonomous driving market in China is worth 170 billion yuan (US$24.31 billion) in 2020.

Last week, several startups announced their latest fundraising results. Uisee, a Chinese startup focused on algorithms and systems for high-level autonomous driving, finished its round B financing, with investors including German industrial giant Bosch, the report said.

Wu Gansha, founder of the startup established in 2016, told local media that 2020 will mark the start of commercializing autonomous driving, and the funds it has raised will accelerate the company’s pace.

Another startup Pony.ai announced last week that it has raised US$462 million, which its CEO James Peng said would speed up commercialization of its autonomous driving technology, the report said.

The fundraising, of which US$400 million was from Japanese carmaker Toyota Motor Corporation, has put the three-year old startup’s valuation at over US$3 billion, the report said.

Consulting firm Mckinsey said China has the potential to become the world’s largest market for autonomous vehicles.

“In China, we believe fully autonomous vehicles will see mass deployment in nine or 10 years,” said analysts at the company in a research note last year, the report said.

It expected such vehicles could account for as much as 66% of the passenger-kilometers traveled in 2040, generating market revenue of US$1.1 trillion from mobility services and US$0.9 trillion from sales of autonomous vehicles by that year, the report said.

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