Autonomous cars have yet to generate passion among car enthusiasts — and if we’re honest about it, they probably never will.
Nevertheless, the car industry seems to be heading that way and there’s not much we can do about it. Take China, for example, where local automakers have been investing massive amounts of money in self-driving technology in recent years.
Naturally, they want to show the progress they’ve made and a good way to do that is through publicity stunts. And, of course, you can always trust the Chinese to throw in a massive, yet perfectly orchestrated, parade. And the Russians, too, but their autonomous tech is, as far as we know, non-existent, so they restrict themselves to the military.
Late last year, Changan Automobile landed a Guinness World Records title for the “Largest parade of autonomous cars” at its Dianjiang test site in Chongqing. A total of 55 self-driving Changan CS55 SUVs lined up and formed a convoy that traveled at 30 km/h (18.6 mph) for 9 minutes and 7 seconds to complete a lap of the 3.2-km (2-mile) test track. Each car was separated by no more than two vehicle lengths — closer than compared to normal road conditions.
For safety reasons, there were drivers behind the wheel of all cars but they didn’t intervene at all during the parade. Originally, there were 56 Changan vehicles, but one of them was disqualified because the driver took control of the car for part of the parade route.
“The drivers who participated in the test had no contact with the autopilot system at all, so we should also build up their confidence in our system in a short period of time to let go [of the controls],” said Yang Guo, autonomous car engineer at Changan Automobile.
For the record attempt, Changan made some modifications to the CS55’s systems, including improved sensors as well as reduced object and event detection margins, given the shorter than usual distances between the vehicles in the convoy.
Obviously, Changan made a big deal of the record attempt as you can see in the following video. You might not get excited but, as we’ve said before, you can’t fight the future.