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FAW Jiefang's automatic driverless truck will be 'commercially available by 2018'

By Zheng Xin in Beijing and Liu Mingtai in Changchun | China Daily | Updated: 2017-04-18 07:55

An automatic driverless truck, manufactured by Changchun-based automaker FAW Jiefang Automotive Co, passed its navigation test last week. Analysts said that its driving assistance system would greatly improve the security level of heavy vehicles.

FAW Jiefang debuted the self-driving truck at the FAW Tech Center in Changchun, Jilin province, last week.

The vehicle is not only capable of recognizing obstacles, slowing down, making detours and speeding up, but is also able to react correctly to traffic lights, has adaptive cruise control, responds to remote commands and can successfully overtake other vehicles.

The company said it planned to commercialize the intelligent driving vehicle as early as 2018.

"The company has built a whole industry chain to develop, manufacture and sell self-driving trucks," said Hu Hanjie, FAW Jiefang general manager. "The participation of more firms will accelerate the technology's use on heavy-duty vehicles."

According to John Zeng, managing director of LMC Automotive Consulting Shanghai, the driverless technology will allow better security for truck driving, which enjoys a much higher accident rate on the road.

"China's driverless truck is more of a trial and a means of catching up with overseas technology," said Zeng. "As one of the leading commercial vehicle manufacturers, it's necessary for FAW Jiefang to have forward-looking technological research and development."

Zeng said the technology could also enhance the security level of the truck industry.

However, Zeng said the technology is still far from commercialization despite the company's decision to put it on the market next year.

"Considering China's complicated traffic and road situation, including a mixed flow of passenger and freight and poor compliance with traffic rules, it will be a long time before the technology hits the road," Zeng said.

China achieved major breakthroughs in scientific and technological development in 2016, when Beijing-based Beiqi Foton Motor Co showcased its intelligent automated super truck at an intelligent connected vehicle expo in Shanghai in November.

Leading Chinese tech firms like Baidu Inc and Tencent Holdings Ltd have also invested in self-driving entities.

FAW Jiefang is a subsidiary of China's major automaker FAW Group, which has recorded total market sales of 3.147 million units last year, a growth of 10.9 percent from the previous year.

FAW sold 29,000 of its own Jiefang vehicles in January, a growth of nearly 130 percent from the same period last year.

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