Chinese manufacturer Changan has begun a 1,100-mile public test of two autonomous cars, as they look to take the lead in driverless cars.
Two of their Raeton saloons will drive themselves from the company’s headquarters in Chongqing in southwest China to the capital Beijing, with a company employee sitting in the front passenger seat for whenever a driver is needed.
Using the extensive motorway system, the journey will take five days, with a technician claiming the Raeton can reach speeds of 75mph, 25mph faster than Google’s driverless alternative.
Changan have joined American companies Tesla and Google in the race to get the first autonomous vehicles on the market, with Tesla’s Elon Musk claiming his cars will be driverless by 2018.
Tesla released their autopilot software last October, which allows the owner to bring the car out of their garage or small parking space using their smartphone, whilst Google have been testing their autonomous model for the past two years, with one recently crashing into a bus in California.
The Raetons aren’t completely self-sufficient, as the technician is needed to change lanes, initiate overtakes and complete other non-autonomous tasks.
Changan’s engineering chief, Li Yusheng, said: “The vehicles have performed well in uncomplicated road conditions, such as urban driveways and highways, but they still need the help of a driver to navigate them in places like gas stations and toll booths.”
Tan Benhong, a researcher for Changan, added: “In two years time we will realise some mass production of high-level self-driving cars. What people see now on the test cars basically will all appear on the mass-produced cars.”
After completing his university studies in English and Creative Writing in Cardiff, Jack is now a full time motoring writer at Blackball Media. His love of cars stems from his childhood years when he began to live and breathe all-things automotive.