No one is allowed to test autonomous cars in China until new regulations are enacted.
The Chinese government has temporarily banned carmakers from testing autonomous vehicles on public highways.
Government officials are currently working with law enforcement to write new regulations that will outline what kind of car(s) can be tested on public highways, and what precautions companies need to take before sending out a driverless or autonomous prototype. Officials already have a rough draft of the regulations, according to industry trade journal Automotive News, but companies are being asked to keep test mules off the highways until the laws are finalized and enacted.
China is home to some of the worst traffic jams in the world, so it's expected to be a major market for autonomous and semi-autonomous cars. Notably, BMW teamed up with Baidu, Google's Chinese rival, about a year and a half ago to build a self-driving car. The fully-autonomous prototype (pictured) is based on the 3 Series GT, and it successfully completed its first road test late last year on the outskirts of Beijing.
At the time, Baidu explained that building a self-driving car in China is much more difficult than anywhere else in the world.
"Fully autonomous driving under mixed road conditions is universally challenging, with complexity further heightened by Beijing's road conditions and unpredictable driver behavior," said Wang Jing, the senior vice president of Baidu and the general manager of the firm's newly-established Autonomous Driving Business Unit, in a statement.
Road conditions and driver behavior are two of the points that the new regulations need to take into account. A time frame for when they'll come into effect hasn't been provided.