A self-driving tour bus roams in the new special economic zone Xiong'an New Area in Baoding city, north China's Hebei province. Photo: AFP,

Shenzhen is reportedly planning to green light road tests of autonomous vehicles carrying passengers as part of ongoing efforts to build a smart transport system.

The southern Chinese city’s transport authorities are seeking public opinion on a plan that would allow self-driving cars to test passenger transportation in designated areas including university campuses, industrial complexes and scenic areas, according to a report by the state-run newspaper Shenzhen Special Zone Daily.

Qualified cars must have logged no less than 1,000 kilometers in test drives and have no record of traffic infringements. Eligible cars should also go through a series of further tests to assess their ability to detect and respond to pedestrians, non-motorized vehicles, traffic lights and complex road conditions such as crossroads and roundabouts, the report said.

Test operators must install vehicle-mounted monitoring equipment, hire licensed drivers and prepare contingency plans, the report said.

So far, Shenzhen has allowed 120 kilometers of roads to be used for autonomous vehicle tests and granted 12 testing licenses to several companies including tech giant Tencent, according to the report.

The news comes after Beijing and Shanghai moved to allow road tests for self-driving cars carrying passengers last year.

Earlier this month, Chinese autonomous vehicle startup Pony.ai became the first Chinese company to offer passenger-carrying “robotaxi” services, which it debuted in Fremont, California. Local government employees can hail the company’s self-driving cars to travel between the city’s train station and some municipal buildings such as the town hall.

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