East China's super highway to be designed for high-speed, autonomous driving
The first 'super highway' in China that's expected to feature higher speed limit, electric car charging facilities and unmanned driving is to be built in Zhejiang, an eastern coastal province, reported people.cn, a state-run news website, citing local transportation department.

The Hangshaoyong expressway, designed to be 161 kilometers long and connect Hangzhou and Ningbo, two key cities involved in China's eastern coastal Greater Bay Area plan—which also includes Shanghai—is planned to be put into operation in 2022.

According to a news release by the Zhejiang Communications Department, the expressway would feature a cloud-computing platform that utilizes big data, intelligent system and traffic control to realize a 20-30 percent increase in average speed.

Meanwhile, a synergy system will be constructed between vehicles, road and drivers in a bid to facilitate autonomous driving in the near future.


“At present, actual average speed on expressways in Zhejiang merely reaches around 90km/h, well below the speed limit of 120km/h. The plan is for the super highway to allow drivers first hit the designed speed of their cars—generally 20-30 percent higher than 90km/h,” Ren Zhong, the transportation official in charge of the project explained, noting the new road will be constructed to allow speeds exceeding the current 120km/h speed cap for Chinese expressways.

It's generally believed by analysts that electric cars represent the future of the automobile industry. Ren agreed, saying that solar photovoltaic power generation and charging lots would be installed on the route while in the future, even the technology of charging while driving could be applied to it.

Mentioning the highway's intelligent features, Ren said they would target to minimize accidents, and through the synergy system that coordinates precisely positioned cars and the road, zero mortality rate may be realized in the future even when autonomous driving is widely used.

Despite all the valuable designs, there are concerns that widespread malpractices in the country may finally prevent all the rosy visions from being materialized. “Drivers usually do not follow traffic rules on most roads in the country, which is definitely not the case in Germany where super highways sometimes have no speed limit. And, there remains a huge gap in our cars' performance. If one or two cumbersome trucks just decide to block your way, there is no difference whether you're on a super or common highway,” wrote a commentary on toutiao.com, a news platform.

Ren, the vice director of Zhejiang Communications Department, said they're meanwhile putting quite an emphasis on new technology and economic new materials because they want the project to work as a model which could be replicated on bigger scale. 

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