BEIJING (Reuters) – China’s southern city of Shenzhen gave the green light to tech giant Tencent Holdings to test its self-driving car on some public roads as the country seeks to bolster its position in the global race for autonomous vehicle technology.
Tencent obtained a license plate for its self-driving car from the Shenzhen Transport Bureau, state news agency Xinhua said on Monday.
It follows Beijing move in April to issue national guidelines for testing self-driving cars, which was reported by the China Daily newspaper.
China is making a major push into autonomous vehicles to develop national champions to compete with global leaders such as Waymo, the self-driving arm of Google parent Alphabet Inc, and Tesla Inc.
Beijing, Shanghai and other Chinese cities previously announced local guidelines for self-driving tests.
Internet giant Baidu Inc already has approval to test self-driving vehicles in Beijing, while SAIC Motor Corp Ltd and electric vehicle start-up NIO have licences to test autonomous cars in Shanghai.
Xinhua said several cities, including Beijing, Shanghai and Chongqing, have issued self-driving car licenses after testing regulations came into effect.
Following two high-profile crashes in the United States involving Uber Technologies [UBER.UL] and Tesla, China’s central government officials said Beijing would make safety a priority.
The Shenzhen Transport Bureau required Tencent’s autonomous car to have both a driver and second person for safety reasons to be in the car during tests, Xinhua reported.
(Reporting by Norihiko Shirouzu; Editing by Edmund Blair)