Chinese autonomous vehicle startup AutoX said on Thursday it has started fully driverless vehicle testing in China with Pacifica minivans from Fiat Chrysler Automobiles (FCA).
AutoX is backed by Alibaba Group, Dongfeng Motor, and SAIC Motor will have a fleet of 25 driverless vehicles in Shenzhen and five in other cities for testing the technology. Automakers and technology companies are spending billions of dollars in autonomous driving, intending to take an early lead in what many consider the future of mobility. Shenzhen-based AutoX has changed a number of vehicles from various manufacturers and tested them in Shenzhen, Shanghai, Guangzhou, Wuhan and Wuhu.
To attract stable partners, startups seek to test their technology with different production vehicles in a range of cities.
In July, AutoX became the second automaker after Alphabet Inc’s Waymo to test a passenger vehicle on California’s public roads without involving a safety driver in the front.
Unlike rivals WeRide and Baidu, which are testing their autonomous vehicles in China but use a remote centre to control their vehicles if needed, AutoX will not have a remote centre.
“We think with current communications infrastructure, remote control brings safety issues as 5G signals are not stable yet and hackers might attack the vehicles,” said Xiao Jianxiong, AutoX’s Chief Executive.
In China, automakers such as Toyota-backed Pony.ai and Didi Chuxing are also testing autonomous cars, but all with one or two safety staff onboard. The individuals onboard take control in unexpected situations.