i3 | March 15, 2022

China Steps into the Future

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Map of the country of China

Autonomous Driving Hits the Gas in Beijing

China has increased its efforts within the autonomous driving sector with new regulations and policies to make adoption easier, establishing 16 autonomous driving demonstration zones. Beijing launched China’s first pilot program for commercial autonomous driving late last year. Baidu and self-driving start-up Pony.ai were among the first companies to receive authorization to launch their vehicles. Using an app, users can hail and pay for some 100 self-driving vehicles in Beijing’s Economic and Technological Development Zone for Robotaxi services. The country’s self-driving taxi services are expected to surpass 1.3 trillion yuan ($203 billion) by 2030, accounting for 60% of the ride-hailing market, according to IHS Markit. Beijing company Uisee, became a unicorn in 2021, providing autonomous options at airports, factories and bus lanes. Uisee has obtained Level 4 automation in its products, the second-highest level, in which the vehicle is capable of operating without human intervention, but a human driver is still able to take control.

Chinese Tech at CES 2022

isplay Tech: Hisense showed off its line of Laser TVs, including a new 8K Laser TV prototype. Its line of ULED 8K Mini-LED televisions, including the U9H, was a CES Innovation Award Honoree. Hisense also released a newly developed TV system on chip (SoC) that supports advanced image processing features. TCL showed a jumbo 98-inch television QLED TV 98R754, that sells for less than $8,000. TCL’s newest 85-inch version of the mini-LED TV measures just 10mm thick (just over 3/8 of an inch). This X9(X925PRO) is the first TV with its third-generation mini-LED backlight, OD Zero™ display technology — and won a CES Best of Innovation Award.

China Takes a Ride: Chinese exhibitors showed self-driving transportation technologies, including autonomous driving awareness systems (ADAS) and LiDAR (light detection and ranging). Shanghai-based Hesai showcased its AT128, a hybrid solid-state LiDAR that can detect objects at long range. Hesai also unveiled a new sensor, the QT128, as a blind spot solution. In RoboSense’s 6th year at CES, their RS-LiDAR-M1 (M1) took the spotlight as “the world’s first mass-produced automotive grade MEMS solid-state LiDAR.” Baidu’s electric vehicle (EV) startup JiDU announced that it would use Nvidia’s Drive Orin SoC to power its first production EV model, expected in 2023.

Chinese Open Their Wallets for the Digital Yuan

Since 2014, China has been experimenting with the digital yuan, or renminbi, to replace cash already in circulation. It’s controlled by the central bank — unlike a cryptocurrency like bitcoin. Also known as e-CNY, China has held digital lotteries to familiarize Chinese citizens with this central bank digital currency (CBDC). The Bank of International Settlements says digital currency reduces the transfer of payments from days to seconds, and it could also cut costs to about half that of traditional payment options. There are some 261 million digital wallets in China, or about one-fifth of the population.

China’s Little Giants Take Big Steps

China’s Ministry of Industry and Information Technology (MIIT) has named 4,762 “little giant companies” since 2019, offering incentives like loans and tax cuts to small and medium-sized companies in certain strategic technology industries, such as semiconductors, robotics and space exploration. The plan includes smart manufacturing technology such as robotics in factories, as well as advanced digital solutions throughout the entire supply chain. The Beijing Stock Exchange, opened in November, will help channel funds to these companies. China’s central government is allocating more than 10 billion yuan ($1.55 billion) to help grow these companies to 10,000 by 2025. As part of the 14th Five Year Plan, China aims for 10% of its gross domestic product to come from the digital economy, up from 7.8% in 2020 from technologies like 6G and big data.

i3 magazine March/April 2022 cover

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