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  • (electronic music)

  • - [Announcer] Every morning since April,

  • more than a hundred self-driving taxis

  • leave this operation center

  • and take to the streets of Shanghai.

  • - If you want to call for our AutoX car,

  • you would just go onto the app.

  • - [Announcer] The autonomous fleet's goal?

  • Navigate the chaotic traffic of the tiny city

  • and sweep up data on how other vehicles and people move.

  • Each bit of information is then fed back

  • to the servers of Chinese startup, AutoX,

  • perfecting algorithms that its CEO, Jianxiong Xiao,

  • says will soon make China a nation of self-driving cars.

  • - If the pandemic in countries like U.S. continue,

  • then the traffic is not coming back.

  • The pandemic give us a head-start advantage

  • compared to players outside China.

  • (electronic music)

  • - [Announcer] When lockdowns across the U.S.

  • forced American companies like Alphabet's Waymo,

  • Ford's Argo and Uber,

  • to suspend the vast majority

  • of its on-the-road testing in March,

  • AutoX was getting back on the road

  • because China was emerging from lockdown.

  • - Here in the United States,

  • most of the companies have had to stop

  • all of their on-road testing,

  • having to rely almost entirely on simulation work.

  • Having a few months of additional time to do that testing

  • will probably benefit the Chinese companies.

  • - [Announcer] Auto analysts say American companies

  • are still the industry's leaders.

  • But Chinese startups are using the time

  • that the pandemic has bought them to get ahead.

  • According to Boston Consulting Group,

  • since 2019, Chinese companies,

  • including Baidu, DiDi, and AutoX,

  • more than doubled their fleets of self-driving vehicles

  • on Chinese roads to 260.

  • The urgency to limit

  • face-to-face interactions during the pandemic

  • has also helped companies raise $1.4 billion

  • so far this year.

  • - If we can make the car fully automatic,

  • you don't need a driver.

  • It's actually much safer considering COVID-19.

  • (electronic music)

  • - [Announcer] This is the Shenzhen headquarters of AutoX

  • and during the past few months,

  • the team has been working on a new radar system

  • that can see a traffic light

  • or another car that's 1,600 feet away.

  • - There's a camera-cleaning system,

  • so that our car can drive under heavy raining situation.

  • - [Announcer] Xiao, says he expects the technology

  • to be first widely adopted in China,

  • since not many people have driver's licenses.

  • - In the U.S. culture-wise,

  • everyone know how to drive,

  • but not many people in China can afford to have a car.

  • And that's why shared mobility is a must-have.

  • There's no other choice.

  • - [Announcer] AutoX is unveiling a revolutionary way.

  • - [Announcer] AutoX also has two R and D centers

  • in Silicon Valley and San Diego

  • to test and feed information back to China.

  • Xiao says the pandemic accelerated his company's plans.

  • In April, it opened what he says

  • is China's largest self-driving

  • taxi operation center in Shanghai.

  • From the start,

  • the Chinese government has played a critical role.

  • In late February,

  • Beijing said a third of all cars produced in China

  • should be self-driving by 2025.

  • - That's really where the biggest advantage is going to be.

  • - [Announcer] Sam Abuelsamid is a car analyst,

  • who's been researching the development

  • of self-driving cars in China and the U.S.

  • for more than 13 years.

  • - On deploying that the largest adoption

  • of automated driving technology in the next decade

  • will be in China.

  • The addressable market in China

  • is much larger than anywhere else.

  • And the government policies in China

  • definitely have the potential to increase that adoption.

  • - [Announcer] In Shanghai, the local government

  • has created a special 30-mile zone

  • where companies can test the latest features

  • of their self-driving cars.

  • - This looks like a normal bus stop

  • but this is one of the places

  • where people can call for our AutoX self-driving car.

  • - [Announcer] The most important technology

  • that the local government installed

  • are the 5G sensors along the roads

  • that help to quickly stream loads of data to the taxis.

  • - The white boxes, basically they have the transmitters.

  • There are some cameras that are installed

  • on the side of the road.

  • So what they do, they would detect the objects.

  • - [Announcer] This infrastructure

  • is called vehicle-to-everything or V2X.

  • Auto analysts say,

  • the U.S. has rolled out nearly 100 V2X projects,

  • far less than Beijing's requirement

  • to cover 90% of highways in China with the technology

  • by the end of the year.

  • - If there's a truck in front of the automated vehicle,

  • that sensor's not gonna be able to see

  • what's on the other side of that truck

  • or what's around the corner.

  • But adding V2X allows the vehicle

  • to extend its situational awareness beyond line of sight.

  • And that's something that I think

  • the U.S. is definitely further behind.

  • - [Announcer] To catch up,

  • analysts say American self-driving car makers themselves

  • would have to spend billions of dollars for V2X fitted roads

  • or create vehicles that are equipped

  • with sophisticated technology

  • that wouldn't need to rely on 5G roads at all.

  • While Waymo and Ford's Argo said

  • they restarted some of their road operations in May,

  • analysts say the bulk of U.S. testing will be limited

  • until the pandemic is brought under control.

  • Auto analysts say,

  • the country to first mass-produce self-driving vehicles

  • will be the one to shape the future

  • of not just shared transportation

  • but other key industries that have seen a boost

  • during the pandemic.

  • - Goods delivery is likely to be a better opportunity

  • in the near term for automated vehicles.

  • The trend towards more e-commerce

  • is going to continue and accelerate

  • and people are going to be relying more on deliveries.

  • - [Announcer] And AutoX CEO, Xiao,

  • wants to make sure his cars are ready

  • when that transition happens.

  • - The Chinese market is very huge.

  • You can do in one city in China,

  • you can use the same technology,

  • the same business model,

  • you can copy in the following 200 city in China.

  • Another country may have only three major cities.

  • Then the maximum you can do is multiply by three.

  • There's not much financial return.

  • But in China, we can make tons of money.

  • (electronic music)

(electronic music)

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Why Self-Driving Cars Are Getting a Boost In China | WSJ

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    joey joey posted on 2021/06/06
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