Shenzhen, a city that pioneered reform and opening-up in China, will allow fully autonomous vehicles to run on certain roads, as the city in Guangdong province unveiled the nation's first regulation tailored for smart and internet-connected vehicles.
The new regulation, scheduled to come into force on Aug 1, also clarified rules for liability in car accidents that involve autonomous driving, helping to fill the legal gap in China's smart car industry.
Shenzhen is giving self-driving cars a legal "identity card", a key move in accelerating the commercialization of autonomous vehicles, experts said, adding that more legal measures and more testing experience are needed before widening such trials.
The new regulation said automakers don't necessarily have to equip fully autonomous vehicles with human driving modes and equipment, nor must they have human drivers.
But such fully automated vehicles can only run on certain roads and sections designated by Shenzhen's traffic management department, according to the regulation, which was published on the official website of Shenzhen Municipal People's Congress on Tuesday.
The new regulation classified autonomous vehicles into three types: conditionally autonomous driving, highly autonomous driving and fully autonomous driving.
The former two types of vehicles must have human control equipment and drivers, the regulation added.
The regulation also clarified rules for liability in car accidents that involve autonomous driving. For autonomous driving vehicles with a driver, the driver is held responsible for accidents and compensation.
For fully autonomous vehicles without a driver, the owner or the user of the vehicle is held responsible for accidents and compensation.
In a traffic accident, if the damage is caused by the defects of a vehicle, the driver, the owner or the user of the vehicle, after paying for the bill, can request compensation from the manufacturer or seller of the car in accordance with laws, the regulation said.
Yu Qian, CEO and founder of QCraft, a Chinese self-driving startup, said, "China's autonomous driving industry is entering a golden development period, with policies becoming increasingly clear and open, and technologies and algorithms becoming more powerful."