By Yin Xiaoyu, People's Daily
An industrial chain of the intelligent connected vehicle (ICV) industry featuring smart vehicles, intelligent roads, and flexible networks, has begun to take shape in Suzhou HSR New Town in Suzhou, east China's Jiangsu Province.
In the new town, which is of strategic significance to the overall development of Suzhou, cars with antennas on top of them are seen everywhere on the streets; sensors are installed on light poles at regular intervals; and massive amount of data are being crunched on cloud platforms.
ICV represents a high level of autonomous driving enabled by the combination of Internet and intelligent technologies. Since 2017, Suzhou HSR New Town has made a forward-looking plan for the development of the industry and regarded it as the most important industry in the new town.
Suzhou HSR New Town, where Suzhoubei Railway Station is located, enjoys exceptional geographical advantages and industrial clusters in the Yangtze River Delta region. Today, the area is home to more than 100 ICV-related companies, with their businesses covering over 30 fields of the industry, including software algorithms, environmental sensing, simulation testing, infrastructure, travel services, and communication networks.
At a bus station in the new town, passengers can have the experience of a free ride on an autonomous minibus developed by QCraft, a Beijing-based leading self-driving technology company, after scanning the QR code on the vehicle with their mobile phones.
The person in the driver's seat of the minibus is not the driver, but the safety officer. When a vehicle in front of the minibus suddenly stops, the bus can immediately brake as the telescreen inside it captures the scene. All these operations are completed autonomously.
Equipped with laser radar, millimeter-wave radar and a camera, the minibus of QCraft features L4 autonomous driving capability, which is attributed to the company's Gigafactory for Autonomous Driving system with data utilization and efficiency improvement at the core.
Besides minibuses, various other types of autonomous vehicles, such as taxis, sanitation trucks, intelligent vehicles for patrol inspection, food delivery vehicles, as well as express delivery vehicles, are also running in Suzhou HSR New Town.
"Smart cars cannot run well without intelligent roads. We have chosen the technical route of a cooperative vehicle-infrastructure system (CVIS), which can reduce the operating cost per vehicle," said Ding Shengyi, deputy head of the administrative committee of Suzhou HSR New Town.
The new town has been built to high standards with an industry-leading 5G network and roadside infrastructure that can meet multiple needs of vehicle-road collaboration, according to Ding.
The total length of road sections designated for ICV road testing in the new town has reached 63.4 kilometers, Ding said. The figure is expected to exceed 140 kilometers in 2022, when the road sections will cover an area of 28.9 square kilometers and extend into all the areas of the new town, the official added.
In addition, a multitude of platforms, including public service platforms for the smart driving industry, smart driving-related operation and maintenance service centers, and cloud control platforms, have been gradually built in the new town.
At the operation and maintenance service center, service providers of different brands of ICV provide customized services for vehicles, such as testing, charging, cleaning and maintenance. The center now has seven open functional areas and eight professional service areas, which can meet the needs of companies in the ICV industry for project benchmarking, vehicle modification, technical testing, equipment testing, operations support, and cultivation of technical professionals.
"By 2024, we will have built 30 digital infrastructure facilities, increased the number of ICVs to 3,000, established 20 research and development (R&D) institutes, cultivated 10 featured areas for industrial clusters, attracted more than 300 ICV-related companies and over 5,000 R&D talents, obtained 200 technical patents, and formulated 30 sets of national and industry standards," Ding said.
The new town will also have won wide recognition for creating ICV-related application scenarios, offered a unique solution to the development of the ICV industry, and turned its strength in operating such application scenarios into an irreplaceable advantage for the ICV industry by 2024, Ding noted.