China on Thursday issued the country's first three road test licenses to smart car makers, making road tests of autopilot vehicles legal.
Shanghai-based SAIC Motor received two of the licenses and the electric vehicle startup Nio obtained the other one.
The licenses allow the operators to use a 5.6-km public road in Jiading District of Shanghai for testing smart cars.
Huang Ou, deputy director of the Shanghai Commission of Economy and Information Technology, said the test road was designated based on a third-party appraisal.
"Shanghai will open more roads for testing smart cars," said Huang.
The license came after Baidu boss Robin Li test drove the company's autonomous vehicle on Beijing's open roads in July last year, causing controversy as there were no rules regarding such a test.
Zhang Cheng, general manager of the foresight technology division of SAIC Motor, said road tests on public roads can gather useful data on real traffic conditions for testing autonomous driving functions of smart cars.
Cao Guangyi, political commissar of the Shanghai traffic police, said police would pursue the responsibility of test drivers in cases of road accidents involving smart cars under road tests.
Shanghai on Thursday issued a regulation on road tests of smart cars, and vowed to push ahead the application and commercialization of smart cars with AI technology and Internet-linked functions.
Lu Zufang, Jiading District official, said the National Intelligent Connected Vehicle (Shanghai) Pilot Zone in Jiading, which has become a world-class venue for testing smart cars, has built 200 test settings for various driving situations.