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Digital innovation too slow, IT heads tell safety summit

Updated: 2013-12-23 07:44
By Xu Xiao ( China Daily)

The wide use of information technology is offering new solutions to the old challenge of road safety, but digital innovation comes slowly in the auto industry, China Daily reporter Xu Xiao interviewed participants at the 2013 International Automobile Safety Summit Forum on Dec 17 in Beijing.

IT company executives, road safety researchers, automotive company leaders, industry observers and media representatives shared their opinions at the event.

Li Shufu, president of Zhejiang Geely Holding Group:

I believe that in the future there will not be many traffic accidents. Through technology improvements car travel can be more automatic and safer.

When these auto safety technologies become mature, cars will no long need drivers. A vehicle will become fully automatic, you just need to set a route for it and rest.

When the auto industry is fully integrated with the IT sector, you will no longer worry about going to a wrong way or traffic accidents.

I think the IT and automotive industries rely on and complement each other. Tesla may become an industry form in which traditional automakers will be acquired by new companies and develop new operations.

Zhu Xichan, director of the auto safety technology research institute at Tongji University:

Now we are in a new era of automobile safety that is led by IT and intellectual technologies.

In previous eras, drivers had more responsibility for auto safety.

Radar and built-in cameras and sensors are not enough for the present era. We need the Internet, GPS technology and highly precise maps.

In the new era, automakers should develop technologies that will enable cars to have the ability to guarantee safety by themselves. These technologies will free people from driving to deal with other things at the same time.

Wang Xiaochuan, CEO of Sohu:

When we first cooperated with automakers several years ago, we felt devastated because normally in the Internet industry it takes just months to complete the R&D of a product. But when it comes to the automotive industry, we need years.

So we avoid directly cooperating with automakers. Instead, we use the idea and logic of the Internet to push automakers.

That's why you can see that the navigation function on smart phones is much better than built-in navigation systems in cars.

In the past, we looked for automakers to provide them with tailor-made services, now automakers turn to us for products and service.

Zhou Hang, CEO of Yongche:

Some friends told me that we Internet people are too impatient. After I heard the discussions on safety at this forum, I found that the auto industry is too slow.

I hope the auto industry can speed up so it can better integrate with the Internet industry for joint development of safety devices and services.

Customers will not be moved by concepts. They will not buy a car just because it is a car of the Internet or an electric. Customers will only be moved by hands-on experience. This is the biggest thing I learned from Tesla, which provide practical solutions to users. Concepts are not important - Internet companies should not blindly chase concepts.

Zhang Jinhuan, head of the auto collision lab at Tsinghua University:

Since we established China's first auto collision lab in 1992, more than 30 years have passed. The biggest improvement in the country's auto safety is the change from passive to active safety.

Technology has evolved from the protection of vehicles to the protection of humans, an historic step.

Today Chinese people still have weak awareness. The first thing they think of with a car is how to show off instead of safety.

A car is worthless if it does not have safety technologies, no matter how luxurious it is.

More road safety stories:

The road to safety starts with an education drive

China marks first road safety day

Parents lack car safety knowledge