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China tests 5G self-driving bus

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China is conducting test run of a self-driving bus, assisted by the 5G mobile network, as part of its efforts to fast track 5G technology use, amid escalating trade row with the US and other countries. The bus is being tested in Chongqing, a vehicle-manufacturing hub in southwestern China, state-run Xinhua news agency reported.

The bus, equipped with technologies such as Controller Area Network and laser radar, is able to complete all autonomous operations with the assistance of the 5G mobile network.

The electric-powered 12 seater has a designed maximum speed of 20 km per hour. The bus was co-developed by China Mobile, tech giant Huawei, Southeast University and French company Easy Mile, the report said.

China is fast tracking 5G network in the country to use the next generation telcom technology amid escalating row with the US over the detention of Meng Wenzhou, CFO of Chinese telcom giant Huawei in Canada.

China has already launched the 5G service in Guangzhou airport, opened its first 5G base station for the Qinghai Tibet plateau region and the road trials of a 5G autopilot bus without a driver, driver cabin or a driving wheel.

Earlier, official media reported that the bus tests were carried out in a 5G network-covered area, where the network helps the bus adjust speed, and detect obstacles and traffic lights.

Chinese officials say that China would like to be ahead of US and other countries to develop 5G telecom network to capture the markets abroad. Also, China’s National Development and Reform Commission (NDRC), the country’s planning body, said that it will speed up the granting of 5G commercial licences to upgrade so-called information consumption in the country.

NDRC would promote high-quality video and support the launch of 4K television channels across China to enrich content as well as subsidise super high-definition TV sets, virtual reality and augmented reality devices in certain regions, it said.

The move is part of a broader effort to boost domestic consumption amid slowing economic growth. It also comes at a time when Huawei, which leads China’s bid to become the leading supplier of advanced telecoms equipment to the world’s mobile carriers, faces growing pressure from the US amid allegation that it is an arm of the Chinese government, Hong Kong-based South China Morning Post reported.

The US filed charges against Huawei, contending that the Chinese smartphone and network gear maker had stolen trade secrets from a telecoms rival and violated US sanctions against doing business with Iran.

Also as the row over Huawei escalated, major suppliers of US technology giant Apple, the Foxconn Technology Group and Pegatron Corp are reportedly accelerating efforts to build new production plants in Southeast Asia and India.

It is part of their efforts to diversify their supply chain away from the Chinese mainland and to save costs, the report said.

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