Autonomous Vehicles Help Drive Asian Economies


US companies aren’t the only ones testing self-driving cars with Chinese search giant Baidu planning to test its own self-driving vehicles in Beijing this summer. China has two big, not-so-positively regarded factors in its favour: centralised government control over road and traffic regulations; and traffic congestion on a scale only 1.4 billion could deliver.

Beijing currently has between 5 and 6 million cars on the road with some recent slow in growth following the introduction of vehicle registration lottery system introduced a few years ago.

Even Beijing’s much-admired mass transit system is struggling to keep up with population growth and transportation needs. This city has the second longest subway system in the world providing over nine million rides every day.

Singapore is another Asian city in the race to gain the safety and logistical advantages of autonomous vehicles. Singapore has been testing self-driving cars on some of its roads since March this year. Singapore’s Land Transport Authority has also requested proposals on how autonomous vehicle technology can be harnessed for public transport.

Car ownership in Singapore is heavily regulated due to severe space limitations for roads, service stations, parking and garages. Vehicle taxes and registration fees can reach six figures, so the prospects of driverless cars are very real on this island state.