HEFEI-Chinese scientists have made progress in helping cut down the cost of driverless vehicles used in special areas like airports or scenic parks.  According to a research team at the Hefei Institute of Physical Science affiliated to the Chinese Academy of Sciences, cost-efficiency could be obtained by optimizing an environment-sensing algorithm and laser radars. The technology can help reduce the price of a ferry vehicle to below 100,000 yuan (about 15,000 US dollars) per unit.

Jiang Ruhai, who led the project, explained that the price of a driverless vehicle can go as high as one million yuan due to its expensive components, especially the sensors for the self-driving system.              The unmanned vehicle is able to automatically make safety decisions to stop or steer in case of emergency. Field tests prove it has good performance in sensing obstacles within 120 meters, steering clear of obstacles, remote control and parking.   

The institute has signed a cooperation agreement with a local automobile manufacturer for the mass production of vehicles with the technology, which can be expected later this year.

Jiang said that currently the technology can only be applied on unmanned ferry vehicles used in factories and parks, schools and airports, as it only has a speed of 10 km per hour.  The developer has also made an app for passengers to call for the ferry vehicles.