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Female drivers herald new tech

By Ouyang Shijia | China Daily | Updated: 2017-03-15 08:22

The auto industry has for long pondered research into gender-based cognitive capacities, which suggested that women may be lagging behind men in visuospatial processing, and hence potentially more prone to mishaps while driving.

Such research findings, however, have not deterred Chinese women. The number of female drivers has increased enormously in China in recent times.

Now, industry experts are wondering if the autonomous driving technology could help in any way in this regard, after a study revealed driverless vehicles could help make rides safer for women.

A survey of 1,081 women by the China Center for Information Industry Development found 50 percent of women said driverless technology would help them handle problems that may occur when they are at the wheel, like avoiding rear-end collisions.

Of those surveyed, 59 percent said they believed the driverless technology will be a future trend.

Liang Yuan, vice chief editor of Beijing CCIIDnet Information Technology Co Ltd, said women constitute the new driving force in the auto market. "We found women do have specific needs. In future, they will have even stronger demands for safer driving and better driving experiences."

According to the survey report, more than 90 percent of female drivers will spend less than two hours at the wheel every day. More than 70 percent will mainly drive on city streets and inter-city highways, and over 80 percent will drive at speeds ranging from 31 kilometers per hour to 90 km per hour.

As most female drivers usually tend to take the heavy-traffic routes, they would be more inclined to use self-driving cars than others, according to the study.

Xu Weijie, market director for China of the Automated Driving Group at Intel Corp, said the industry needs to deepen research into the power of computers in such cars and the application 5G technology to autonomous driving.

"The key lies not only in technology innovation but in building a complete ecosystem complete with related regulatory authorities and policy frameworks," Xu said. Enterprises may mass-produce self-driving cars by 2025, he said.

Agreed Tao Feiwen, co-founder of Horizon Robotics, a Beijing-based AI solutions provider. "Women's need for self-driving technologies will ultimately lead to breakthroughs in the industry. I am optimistic about future developments."

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