Baidu Joins Geely Urging China to Hasten Autonomous-Driving Law

  • Setting up legal framework is `urgent task,' Geely's Li says
  • Chinese companies see clear rules leading to investment

The chairmen of Internet search provider Baidu Inc. and automaker Zhejiang Geely Holding Group Co. urged China’s government to speed up the drafting of a legal framework for autonomous driving technology.

Baidu Chief Executive Robin Li and Li Shufu, founder of Volvo owner Geely, wrote in separate proposals to a Chinese political advisory body that early establishment of a legal system governing autonomous driving would boost development of the technology and attract investment. China’s carmakers and tech companies are competing in the space with the likes of Google Inc. in the U.S., Daimler AG in Germany and Nissan Motor Co. in Japan.

“Autonomous driving technology brings along new challenge and opportunity to China’s automobile industry,” Geely’s Li said in his proposal to the Chinese People’s Political Consultative Conference. “It is an urgent task to start preparing for the establishment of our legal framework.”

The race to bring to market self-piloting cars will depend in part on how receptive regulators are to the technology. In the U.S., the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration last month told Google it will interpret the company’s software as a “driver,” a step toward compliance with safety standards. The agency also plans a $4 billion grant program over 10 years to fund automated vehicle pilot projects.

Nissan, Japan’s second-largest automaker, plans to make autonomous-drive features available in its domestic market this year. Japan and Germany are proposing international standards through the United Nations Economic Commission for Europe.

— With assistance by Tian Ying

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