China / Innovation

Driverless vehicles travel road to future

By Wang Xiaodong (China Daily) Updated: 2012-12-20 07:46

The road to the future, for those who would like to take a hands-off approach to driving, could have been glimpsed recently on a highway from Beijing.

What was once the realm of science fiction, passengers in driverless vehicles reading or playing video games as their vehicle hurtles down the road, is now science fact.

A black driverless sport utility vehicle completed a 114-kilometer journey last month from Beijing to Tianjin in 85 minutes.

"The average speed was 79 km per hour, but it could have been higher as traffic on the road was a little heavy," said professor Xu Youchun, who is in charge of the research program.

Junjiaomengshi 3 (Lion 3), the vehicle's nickname, completed more than 10,000 km in tests, reaching a top speed of 120 km/h, said Xu, a specialist on "intelligent vehicles" at the Military Transportation University in Tianjin.

The vehicle looks exactly the same as any SUV, except for three sensors on the front, back and top. Three other sensors inside the vehicle, three cameras, a navigational system and three computers keep the vehicle safely on the road.

Driverless vehicles travel road to future 

During the test on Nov 24, the vehicle overtook 12 times, made 36 lane changes and applied brakes 30 times.

The only work done by the "driver" was to input the destination and press the start button, Xu said.

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