Autonomous vehicle technology may still be years away even though the industry has already invested over $35 billion into the technology.
One of the biggest challenges in developing fully autonomous driving, according to Zhong Hua, Senior Vice President of Engineering at Chinese startup WeRide, is accounting for human behavior.
"Some people violate the traffic rules, or sometimes unusual objects are placed in the road. ... You don't know all of these cases," Zhong told the Nikkei Asian Review last month on the sidelines of an automotive technology event hosted by IHS Markit in Tokyo.
"[Having no human driver] is just very difficult. As we road test in China, we know well there are very difficult scenarios ... We don't think that the technology will be able to handle that in a very short period of time."
The need to account for human behavior -- both pedestrians and other drivers -- was tragically highlighted in March 2018 when one of Uber's self-driving cars struck and killed a pedestrian in Arizona.
WeRide, which is backed by the Renault-Nissan-Mitsubishi alliance venture fund and Hong Kong-based artificial intelligence unicorn SenseTime, focuses on commercializing level-4 autonomous taxis in China. Level 4 is the second-highest level of autonomous driving, defined as fully autonomous in controlled areas.
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