Baidu Snags Autonomous Car Licenses, Bringing China Closer to Driverless Future

(Bloomberg) -- The capital of central China’s Hubei province granted licenses for companies to test self-driving vehicles, boosting robocar-related stocks on hopes that autonomous driving is closer to becoming a reality in the country.

Internet giant Baidu Inc. got a license for five of its self-drive cars, while Shenzhen Haylion Technologies Co. and DeepBlue Technology Shanghai Co. will trial a bus each, said Hu Haojun, an official at Wuhan’s department of transport.

A Baidu spokesman declined to elaborate. Representatives from the other two companies weren’t immediately reachable.

Shares of companies involved in self-driving technology rose on the mainland Monday. Xingmin Intelligent Transportation Systems Group Co. and DuoLun Technology Co. both climbed by the 10% daily limit, and Ningbo Shuanglin Auto Parts Co. pared a similar gain to close up 5.4%.

China has ambitious plans for developing its transportation sector, including a possible target of having 60% of all automobiles sold in the country run on electric motors by 2035. On the autonomous side, the State Council has emphasized a need to develop the technology and a full supply chain.

Shanghai last week announced plans for limited testing of driverless vehicles, following Changsha and Guangzhou. The city gave licenses to SAIC Motor Corp., BMW AG and ride-hailing company Didi Chuxing Inc. to test cars with passengers.

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For Wuhan, a city of about 10 million people, driverless vehicle tests will take place in designated parts of a 28-kilometer road, the official Xinhua News Agency said Sunday. It cited the deputy mayor as saying the city will provide “subsidies at appropriate levels” and that the trials could help put China on track to being a global leader in autonomous driving.

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