Among the more than 100 brands present at this year’s Beijing Auto Show in China, it was Changan that was the biggest draw. The manufacturer’s two driverless Raeton sedans made a journey of 1,243 miles from the carmakers’ base in Chongqing to Beijing. The drive marks the first long-distance test of autonomous driving technologies in China.
Changan’s achievement has them competing with tech giants like Google and Tesla in the race to produce the first self-driving commercially viable vehicles. The proud company, which has been producing cars for over 150 years, introduced their success story via a video of the sleek-looking reflective silver car to the audience at the Chinese auto show.
The challenge saw the Raeton respond to maximum speed limits, congestion and lane changes, using high precision GPS, evolved camera systems and sensors that relay environmental information back to a processing unit to determine changes in direction, acceleration and braking. Additional gadgetry includes a voice recognition system that allows the car to be controlled via voice commands without manual participation.
“The vehicles have achieved excellent results on roads like streets and highways, but they still need the help of a driver to navigate places like gas stations and toll stations,” said chief engineer Mr Yusheng Li of Changan Automobile Engineering Institute. The company’s deputy director Tan Benhong, added: “We want to improve the vehicle’s sensors and processing technology, and then proceed with the production of serial models.” The brand’s plan is to develop autonomous vehicles that will go into mass production by 2018.
— By Javiera Lastra Amaya
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