On Monday, tech titan Tencent received a license to road-test driverless cars in Shenzhen.
According to SCMP, it's the first permit of its kind released so far by the local government, giving permission for the Shenzhen-headquartered company to conduct tests in designated areas of the city.
Thanks to recent regulations released by the national Ministry of Industry and Information Technology, city and provincial governments across China now have more freedom than ever to permit open-road tests for autonomous vehicles.
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Roughly five months ago, Beijing became the first Chinese city to allow companies to take their self-driving vehicles for a spin. In March, Shanghai followed its lead by giving permission to two companies, one of which is state-owned.
Although Tencent is the first to receive a license in Shenzhen, it's well behind Baidu, which has permission to road-test in Shanghai and Chongqing as well as California.
But of the Baidu-Alibaba-Tencent tech trinity, Alibaba is lagging behind the most. The massive conglomerate has yet to start its own road tests, although SCMP (which is owned by Alibaba) reports that its parent company is ramping up its preparations.
Other Chinese companies have also jumped into the race to develop safe driverless vehicles, with California proving a popular testing ground: Didi recently received permission to try out its cars there, joining PRC startups NIO and Pony.ai.
[Cover image via Tencent]