China is moving faster in vehicle intelligence and developing mid- to high-level autonomous driving technologies, the Ministry of Public Security said recently at the World Intelligent Connected Vehicles Conference 2022 (WICV 2022) in Beijing.
The concept of connected vehicles can be traced back to the 1990s. At the 1996 Chicago Auto Show, General Motors announced “Project Beacon” – later renamed OnStar – made possible by onboard sensors, live advisors and several intelligent algorithms.
However, the connection only enabled the flow of information between vehicles and control centers. Driven by technological leaps, connected cars are now breaking into a new era of ICV.
ICVs are next-generation vehicles that leverage advanced technologies such as chips, big data, and artificial intelligence that enable highly effective, safe, comfortable, and energy-efficient driving, according to the National Innovation Center of Intelligent and Connected Vehicles (CICV).
ICVs in China
The “Taxonomy of Driving Automation for Vehicles” published by the Standardization Administration of the People’s Republic of China on August 20, 2021, officially came into force on March 1, 2022. It is the basis for China’s ICV standard system and provides a framework for subsequent laws, regulations and mandatory standards for autonomous driving in China.
The standard divides driving automation into six levels. Levels 0 to 2 include driver assistance, in which the system supports people in dynamic driving tasks and the driving subject remains the driver. Levels 3 to 5 relate to more autonomous driving experiences, where the system performs dynamic driving tasks instead of the human under the designed operating conditions and the driving subject is the system when the function is activated.
China’s ICV industry is an important engine for the high-quality development of the world’s largest automobile market, according to the Ministry of Industry and Information Technology.
In 2021, China’s ICV market size reached 289 trillion yuan (US$45 trillion), more than triple from 2016. The report predicts that the ICV market size in China will reach 355 trillion yuan (US$54 trillion) by the end of 2022 ) will increase.
In the first half of 2022, the average penetration rate of Level 2 (combined driving assistance) passenger cars in China’s passenger car market rose to 32.4 percent, a year-on-year increase of 12.7 percent. The penetration rate reached 36.1 percent in June, exceeded 30 percent for four consecutive months since March 2022, and reached an all-time high this year.
Opportunities and challenges ahead
Digitization is at the heart of ICVs and China is a world leader in the digital sector, said Oliver Zipse, CEO of BMW AG, during WICV 2022. The progress in China’s digitization inevitably drives the development of global digitization, he added.
Chip shortage is a current challenge and the CICV predicted that the issue will continue to negatively impact sales and market penetration of Level 2 driver assist cars.
In the process of continuous technology updating and development, China has made breakthroughs in ICV-related key technologies such as vehicle operating systems and large-capacity computer chips, the Ministry of Industry and Information Technology said in a statement on Friday.