China’s 5G-A techs upgrade smart autonomous driving test in Shanghai

A group of autonomous driving cars lined up in Shanghai, east China. /CFP

A group of autonomous driving cars lined up in Shanghai, east China. /CFP

Shanghai is becoming China’s pioneer city in the autonomous driving test by expanding public road test kilometers and introducing pilot regulation. Empowered by 5G-A technologies, the metropolitan opened an additional 205 kilometers of roads including expressway for autonomous driving test recently, bringing its total length of test roads to over 2,000 kilometers.

To date, the city has attracted 32 licensed companies and 794 vehicles to test on a total of 1,003 city roads, according to local authorities. Some of the newly opened test roads are on the expressways, diversifying the scenarios for self-driving simulation.

Lin Yu, general manager of Shanghai Jinqiao Intelligent Connected Vehicles Development Co., Ltd., told China Media Group (CMG) that the new test roads allow them to collect data from a wider range of test scenarios and upload the data to their platform in preparation for further research and development.

“The test roads are gradually expanding from simple to more complex conditions. This is the first open test road in the city center that is completely in a real urban environment. The further and broader the car travels, the more cases it encounters, and we use them to debug our algorithms,” Lin said.

In addition, Shanghai enacted a special law for Pudong New Area in 2022 to facilitate the development of the autonomous driving industry. Monitoring equipment on the testing vehicles should upload real-time information such as the speed, location and driving status to the city’s monitor center and the collected data will be used as the basis for the vehicle to be licensed for the next stage of testing and operation, according to the law.

“There are many L4 (high-level driving automation) level test vehicles in Jinqiao as Pudong New Area has special legislation for autonomous driving, allowing vehicles that have reached the L4 level to be tested, applied and operated in the future,” said Lin.

A Robotaxi stop in Shanghai, east China. /CFP

A Robotaxi stop in Shanghai, east China. /CFP

‘Internet of Vehicles’ with 5G-A

Improved 5G technologies along test roads in a driverless vehicle pilot zone in Shanghai allow vehicles to collect and share traffic data in real time, a technological advance that can help driverless cars analyze and respond faster to road conditions.

Typically, before being put into commercial use, driverless vehicles are required to pass tests to prove that they are able to run safely on roads and be operated by transportation companies at scale.

All these complex functions are backed with advanced technologies that enable vehicles to collect detailed road data and produce quick and accurate analyses of traffic flow and road conditions.

Lin Tailai, head of an autonomous driving technology company, told CMG that “a driverless car is equipped with 50 advanced sensors, including 28 cameras, six laser radars and millimeter-wave radars to help it sense the surroundings through 360 degrees and conduct real-time identification and analysis of traffic, pedestrians and its surroundings.”

With 5G-A technologies, the Jinqiao Intelligent Connected Vehicles Demonstration Zone in Shanghai has recently opened test roads, where driverless vehicles are able to collect road information through a combination of precise road maps, real-time computing power and a reliable “Internet of Vehicles.”

“The 5G-A technology is an upgrade from the 5G technology, which is improved in performance, connectivity, and functioning,” said Du Yanyan, deputy general manager of the planning and development department of the Shanghai Branch of China Mobile, one of China’s major telecom operators.

“The network latency for 5G technology is about 50 milliseconds and for 5G-A we can maintain that at below 20 milliseconds, small enough to help us get information via the ‘Internet of Vehicles,'” Du added.

Researchers say these advances in driverless vehicle technology and data processing can benefit other sectors as well. “Since autonomous driving is an emerging technology, it is set to bring revolutionary changes to transport and travel,” said Tu Huizhao, a professor in the Transportation Engineering Department at Tongji University in Shanghai.

It will also push the development and upgrade of China’s extensive infrastructure construction, Tu added, saying that “as new industries will be boosted by autonomous driving technologies, the smart transportation industry may experience explosive growth in the coming years.” 

Read More:

MIIT advances China’s formulation of autonomous driving standards