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BMW licensed for autonomous driving

Shanghai has granted BMW a licence for self-driving car testing, setting up the German luxury brand to become the first foreign automaker to test autonomous vehicles on the road in China.

As global car giants race for an advantage in the world’s largest car market, the Shanghai Commission of Economy and Information Technology awarded the two licences for BMW’s 7 Series sedans on Monday, the regulator said.

Since the city started issuing the testing permits in March, local state-owned automaker SAIC and Chinese electric vehicle startup NIO have logged over 6,000 kilometers of driving without incidents, the commission said.

But the licences do not give carmakers access to all of Shanghai’s streets. Instead they have a 5.6-kilometer stretch of road to drive up and down, Xinhua news agency said.

The autonomous car market is ramping up in China as local upstarts, technology behemoths and foreign automakers go head-to-head to produce what many expect to be the future of transport.

Alibaba and its rival Baidu recently predicted that self-driving vehicles will hit the road in the country within three to five years, and both have invested big to be at the forefront of the shift.
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