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16th of January 2018

Technology



China Stops Foreign Companies Mapping its Roads

Censorship (Man Gagged)

Security risk or protectionist behavior? Regardless of which it is (probably a little of both), the Chinese government has thrown up a major road block to foreign companies grabbing a slice of the self-driving car market in China. The problem being, only Chinese companies are allowed to create and access road map data, which is essential for a self-driving car to function.

As The Drive explains, a report in the Financial Times claims the Chinese government is using "national security" as the reason why road mapping is being restricted to Chinese firms only. In fact, China hasn't allowed geographic information to be collected for over a decade due to the security risk posed.

Of course, where there is a restriction there is also an opportunity, and it's one foreign companies are getting used to having to accept. If you want to do business in China, then you need to have a Chinese partner. The same will no doubt be true for self-driving cars. China will welcome in any car company as long as there is a Chinese company involved who will unlock access to the essential mapping data. All data on journeys will also need to be accessible by the relevant Chinese authorities if and when they need it.

Two big changes are happening almost in tandem inside the car industry right now. The first is all-electric vehicles and the second is self-driving tech. The end state will be emission free cars we charge at home and no longer drive ourselves. China is clearly pushing to reach that end state first, and it's part of the reason why companies such as Tesla are Ford are moving production to China.

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