The city of Zhangzhou, Fujian province, is planning to build the world's largest experimental zone for autonomous driving.
The project, which was signed on Dec 15 in Beijing, will be constructed in a 56-square-km zone in the city's economic and technological development area to enable testing of autonomous cars in a city-level lab road network with complete traffic signs.
It will also cover a 600,000-square-meter closed testing ground and a two-million-square-meter open experimental field.
Ding Yong, head of the development area, said the China Merchants Group, Frontt Capital and the CRI Intelligent Auto Research Institute have decided to set up an initial fund of 10 billion yuan for the project.
The timeframe of the plan as a whole is yet to be announced, but Wang Lejing, head of Frontt Capital, said the testing ground is expected to be open by the end of the year.
Mcity will offer technological suggestions to the project. Mcity is a test facility for evaluating the capabilities of connected and automated vehicles and systems built by the University of Michigan and the Michigan Department of Transportation.
Autonomous driving is believed to be one of the most important three pillars of the auto industry in the future, with many carmakers and suppliers, including Volvo, BMW and Delphi, having shown their latest technologies and plans in this regard.
Improved safety and transport efficiency are major driving forces of autonomous driving. Statistics from the United States National High Way Traffic Safety Administration show that 35,200 people died in traffic accidents in the US in 2015, most of which suggested human error.
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