California allows AutoX to test cars without driver

  • July 23, 2020
  • William Payne

California’s Department of Motor Vehicles has awarded Chinese self-driving start-up AutoX a permit that allows it to test driverless cars in San Jose without a driver. While California has issued 62 permits for autonomous vehicle testing, AutoX is only the third company to be awarded one that allows it to test driverless cars on public streets without a driver behind the wheel.

The Chinese start-up joins Waymo and Nuro, the other two holders of permits allowing driverless car testing, without a driver present.

AutoX will be able to test its cars in “fair weather conditions”, at speeds not exceeding 45 miles an hour. The testing is allowed within a designated zone of San Jose, close to the company’s headquarters.

The company was founded by former Princeton University professor Xiao Jianxiong. At the heart of its vehicles is a full-stack system that includes solid-state lidar sensors, high definition cameras, and a computer. Part of the processing is done by a unit called the XCU which Xiao claims delivers greater computation than rival systems.

The company is based in Hong Kong, and is backed by Alibaba. It operates autonomous taxi services in Shanghai and Shenzhen, with fleets of up to a hundred cars. Its self driving cars can reach 50 miles an hour, and are able to connect to Shanghai’s new 5G-based V2X infrastructure, allowing them to communicate with road signalling, warning systems and traffic lights.

AutoX is also collaborating with Swedish autonomous car developer NEVS, and has announced plans to launch a self driving pilot in Europe in 2020.