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Self-driving bus reaches 100th day of trial operations

en.whkfq.gov.cn | Updated: 2022-04-11

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Two Sharing-VANs pass Chosun, WHDZ's new landmark, during night fall. [Photo provided to en.whkfq.gov.cn]

The unmanned minibuses – known as Sharing-VANs – developed by automaker Dongfeng Motor Co, recently reached their 100th day of trial operations in the Wuhan Economic & Technological Development Zone (WHDZ) on April 8 after being launched last year.

To celebrate the special occasion, officials of the company have upgraded the paintings decorated on the van – a little tiger (symbolizing the year of tiger) next to patterns of the Yellow Crane Tower (an iconic historical scenic spot of Hubei province) and Chunsun (WHDZ's new landmark). The van's new look has been well-received among residents of the zone.

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A Sharing-VAN is seen making a U-turn. [Photo provided to en.whkfq.gov.cn]

In contrast to conventional automobiles, the Sharing-VAN doesn't have the driver's seat, allowing more room for large and comfortable passenger seats. Moreover, the bus will automatically reduce its speed to 20 meters when near any barriers or pedestrians and maneuver around them.

Every van is equipped with six laser radars, seven cameras, 16 ultrasonic radars, and five millimeter-wave (mmWave) radars, giving the van 360-degree sensing abilities that can identify the objects around it and how fast they are moving. The van is also able to detect road marking and the edge of the road.

The bus operates at Level 4 – the highest level of autonomous driving currently available.

Cao Kai, chief technology officer of Dongfeng Yuexiang Tech Co, who graduated from Wuhan University of Technology, often boards the van and sits among other passengers to find areas for improvement in the design of the bus.

According to Cao, his team is now researching the bus's intelligent speech interaction function, which will enable passengers to ask the bus where they are, what the next station is, and other such information.

There are 15 such vans currently being tested between the Xiaojunshan Metro Line Station and Chedu Youth City, offering 24/7 services for passengers looking for transfers. There are currently four routes available that operate at 15-minute intervals. Residents can go to the bus station and show their health QR codes for a free ride.