Baidu expanded its self-driving fleet in Beijing to 52 last year. Credit: Baidu.

Self-driving technology in China reached a new milestone over a two-year period ending in December, recording more than 1 million kilometers on Beijing’s roads, according to an industry report.

In 2019, 73 self-driving cars from 12 companies drove more than 886,600 km in Beijing, an increase of 577% from the distance in 2018, according to a report compiled by the Beijing Innovation Center for Mobility Intelligent, Xinhua reported.

The latter is an officially-authorized third-party service agency for autopilot vehicle road testing in the capital city, the report said.

Self-driving cars from Baidu top the list, traveling 893,900 km over the two-year period, including more than 754,000 km in 2019. The company expanded its self-driving fleet in Beijing to 52 last year, the report said.

Five vehicles from Guangzhou-based Pony.ai came second with around 111,200 km in 2019, while Japanese automaker Toyota came the third with four cars traveling 11,100 km, the report said.

Road testing in Beijing has been safe and controllable with few impacts on traffic, and most companies adopted the plan of cameras, millimeter-wave radar and LiDAR.

LiDAR, also known as Light Detection and Ranging, is one of the crucial sensors used in self-driving cars. The report said more companies chose LiDAR among local brands, the report said.

In fact, the proportion of domestic brand LiDAR increased from 20% in 2018 to 40%.

The report also revealed data about disengagement in which human drivers take control of the self-driving car.

About 86% of disengagement is due to the replacement of data recording equipment, changes in planned routes or personal reasons of the human drivers. Only 14% is attributed to system failures or algorithm bias, the report said.

In March 2018, Beijing earmarked 33 roads with a total length of 105 km for autonomous car testing in Yizhuang, Shunyi and Haidian, all of which are outside the Fifth Ring Road and away from densely-populated areas.

However, test spaces for driverless vehicles are expected to expand to 500 sq km by 2022.

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