Administrative Rules of Road Testing of Self-Driving Vehicles Promulgated—-A
Brief Comment on Administrative Rules on the Administration of Road Testing of
Intelligent Connected Vehicles

National Administrative Rules of Road Testing of
Self-Driving Vehicles Promulgated—-A Brief Comment on Administrative Rules on
the Administration of Road Testing of Intelligent Connected Vehicles

Hongbin ZHANG, Yang


Vehicles, also referred to as “self-driving cars’’, “driverless cars”,
"smart cars" and “intelligent connected vehicles” (“ICVs”) are rapidly developing in China
and the government has given serious consideration to the development of the smart
car industry. The ICV industry has been listed as one of the ten key areas for development
as part of the Made in China 2025 strategy, and the Medium and Long Term
Development Plan of the Automobile Industry identifies the development of ICVs
as providing breakthrough opportunities in the transformation and upgrade of
the automobile industry.[1]

Road tests play an essential role in the
development and application of technology for ICVs. Since December 2017,
various guidances, implementation rules and other documents relating to the
road testing of ICVs ("Local Rules")
have been successively issued in locations including Beijing, Shanghai,
Chongqing. In addition, road testing facilities for ICVs have been built in
Shanghai, Chongqing, Beijing, Zhejiang, Changchun (Jilin), Wuhan (Hubei), Wuxi
(Jiangsu) and elsewhere. The legislative and practical insights acquired during
the testing processes addressed in these Local Rules have provided a solid
foundation for the issuance of nationwide unified administrative rules relating
to ICVs.

On April 12, 2018, the Ministry of
Industry and Information Technology, the Ministry of Public Security and the
Ministry of Transportation jointly issued the Administrative Rules of Road Testing of Intelligent Connected Vehicles
(for Trial Implementation)
(the "Administrative
), which subsequently came into force on May 1, 2018. The
Administrative Rules are the first regulatory document on road testing of ICVs
at the national level. By standardizing and unifying the Local Rules, they have
served to accelerate the development of road testing processes for ICVs in

While there has undoubtedly been an
enthusiastic response to the convenience – and the entertainment value – of
ICVs, a recent pedestrian death caused by an Uber autonomous vehicle in
Arizona, USA has highlighted that safety should always be uppermost in ICV
development and road testing. The Administrative Rules take the approach that
safety should be the overriding concern in the road testing of ICVs. We provide
the following commentary on the issue of smart car safety as it is addressed in
the Administrative Rules.

II. Safety Guarantee
I: Admission and Management of the Testing Party

The Administrative Rules set out the
requirements and conditions for test vehicles, test subjects and test drivers,
and include a number of requirements for the management of tests so as to
ensure safety during the road testing of ICVs.

1.    Test
Vehicles: Six Requirements

The Administrative Rules set out six
specific requirements for test vehicles, relating to their registration,
mandatory items for testing, switching between self-driving and manual modes,
data recording and real-time information monitoring, testing locations, and
third-party verification of testing. Detailed requirements are as follows:

i. An ICV test vehicle cannot be
registered as a motor vehicle;

ii. Mandatory items for testing should
satisfy relevant requirements for corresponding vehicles, with the exception of
durability. If a particular mandatory
testing item is not met due to the self-driving function, it will need
to be proved that this has not in any way jeopardized the safety performance of
the vehicle;

iii. Is able to be steered both
manually and automatically, and can be switched safely, rapidly and easily
between the self-driving and manual driving modes;

iv. Includes the capability to
record, store and monitor the status of the vehicle, providing real-time
information about the current vehicle control mode and other specified
information, and can automatically record and store data for at least 90
seconds prior to any vehicle accident or malfunction, with the data stored for
at least three years;

v. Field tests for test vehicles
shall be conducted only in locations approved for testing, such as closed roads
or sites;

vi. The self-driving function of
test vehicles shall be tested and verified by a third-party testing institute
with the necessary inspection license as specified in the Administrative Rules.

In addition, in order to ensure safety
during testing, the Administrative Rules stipulate that during a test, a test
vehicle shall not carry any person or freight that is
not of relevance to that test. The Administrative Rules
further stipulate that the self-driving mode shall
not be employed during an ongoing test, except when the test vehicle is running
on roads designated for testing, and that the testing vehicle shall be driven
manually from the parking lot to the road designated for testing purposes.

In terms of the requirements on test
vehicles, the Administrative Rules appear to draw lessons from the road test
rules issued by various local government authorities, and in particular those
of the Shanghai local government authority.

2.    Test Subjects: Seven Conditions

Administrative Rules set out seven conditions for test subjects, relating to
the nature of the business entity, the scope of business, the capacity to
compensate in the event of an accident, test evaluation, remote monitoring,
event record analysis and conformity with laws and regulations.
Detailed requirements are as follows. The test should:

i. Be an independent legal entity
registered within the territory of the People's Republic of China;

ii. Have the relevant business
capacity for intelligent ICVs, such as automobile and spare parts
manufacturing, research and development of technology, and experimentation and

iii. Have the financial capacity to
cover civil compensation for any damages caused to people or property by ICVs
during testing;[2]

iv. Have its own evaluation rules
for the testing of the self-driving functions of ICVs;

v. Have the capability to conduct
real-time, remote monitoring of test vehicles;

vi. Have the capability to record,
analyze and reproduce events performed by test vehicles;

vii. Comply with other conditions
required by laws, regulations and rules.

The Administrative Rules do not set out
any special requirements for foreign invested enterprises, with the above
provisions applied equally to wholly foreign invested enterprises and to
Sino-foreign joint ventures registered in China.

Comparing the Administrative Rules with
the rules of road testing previously issued by Beijing, Shanghai and other
cities suggests that the Administrative Rules have for the most part taken as
their basis the Shanghai rules relating to the conditions for the testing

3.    Test
Drivers: Eight Requirements

Based on the rules of road testing
issued in Beijing and Shanghai, the Administrative Rules include eight
requirements for test drivers on elements including employment or labor service
contracts, self-driving training, and major traffic violation records.
Specifically, test drivers should:

i. an employment contract or a labor service
contract with the test subject;[3]

ii. Have held a driving license for driving the corresponding type of vehicle
and have driving experience of at least three years;

iii. Not in the three most recent demerit periods have received twelve points
under the demerit point system;

iv. In the past year, have no record of serious traffic violations, for
example driving at a speed exceeding 50% of the upper limit or violating
traffic light rules;

v. Have no record of drink-driving or taking State-controlled psychotropic or
narcotic drugs;

vi. Have no record of traffic accidents causing death or serious personal

vii. Have familiarity with the testing rules and operation of self-driving
vehicles following self-driving training sessions provided by the test subject,
and be capable of responding to emergencies; and

viii. Comply with other requirements specified in laws, regulations and rules.

In addition, in order to ensure safety,
and on the basis of insights gained from the accident caused by Uber’s
self-driving vehicles, the Administrative Rules specify that a test driver must
always be seated in the driver’s seat of the test vehicle, must observe the
driving status of the test vehicle and the surrounding environment during the
entire test process, and be ready at all times to take control of the vehicle.

III. Safety Guarantee
II: Revocation of Testing Notice

The Administrative Rules set out various
requirements on test vehicles, test subjects and test drivers in order to
ensure the safety of testing. At the same time, the Administrative Rules refer
to the road testing rules issued in Beijing and Shanghai, and especially the
rules in Shanghai, and empower the competent authorities to revoke a testing
notice under certain conditions. The Administrative Rules stipulate that should
any of the following safety issues arise during the testing period, the
competent authorities can revoke the testing notice and suspend the test:

1. The relevant competent
authorities of the provincial or municipal government believe that the testing
activities carry major safety risks;

2. The test vehicle is involved
in a serious violation of traffic rules, such as violating traffic light rules,
driving in the wrong direction, or other serious traffic violations for which
the penalty under traffic law may be to temporarily detain or to revoke the
driving license or to hold the violator in custody;

3. The party owning the test
vehicle has the main responsibility in a serious traffic accident, which, for
example results in serious personal injury, death or significant damage to a

There is currently no specific provision
in Administrative Rules as to what subsequent impact the revocation of a
testing notice might have on the testing subject, such as whether the testing
subject can re-apply for a test and if so how long it would need to wait to
re-apply for such test. These details await further definition in future Local

IV. Safety Guarantee
III: Assumption of Liability for Accident

In order to assign responsibility to the
violating parties involved in traffic violations or accidents during an ongoing
test, the Administrative Rules provide a specific section, entitled "Handling
of Traffic Violations and Accidents", in which they clarify how to handle
traffic violations, identify the liability of the parties involved, and specify
the relevant departments responsible for handling accidents and imposing
punishment. The Administrative Rules also stipulate the obligations of the
concerned parties and the reporting requirements on the test subjects and
provincial and municipal competent authorities following any accident. Details are
as follows:

1. In the event of a traffic
violation being committed during an ongoing test, the traffic administrative
department of the public security authority shall deal with the test driver
according to the existing laws and regulations regarding road traffic safety;

2. In the event of a traffic
accident occurring during an ongoing test, the liability of the concerned party
shall be determined according to existing road traffic safety laws and
regulations, and the liability for damages shall be determined in accordance
with relevant laws, regulations and judicial interpretations. Where a crime has
been committed, criminal liability shall be pursued according to law.

In summary, in the event of any traffic
violation, the liability should be assumed by the test driver, and in the case
of traffic accidents, the party assuming the liability for the accident and
damages should be determined according to the law. The Administrative Rules do
not specify in any detail the liability of the test subject. Whether the test
subject, as an employer, should assume overall liability for compensation,
whether they should assume joint liability with the employee, or whether the
producer and/or seller of the test vehicle should assume product liability may
require determination from subsequent legislation or judicial practice.

V. Conclusion

The promulgation of
the Administrative Rules goes a long way to meet the urgent demand for
direction in the development of the ICV industry, providing unified rules for
road testing of ICVs, and guaranteeing the legal basis for road testing of ICVs
at a national level. Key questions for participants in the ICV industry are
likely to include how to satisfy the safety requirements as set out in
Administrative Rules, and how each subject might assume liability for any

With the evolution of road testing
practice in an ever-increasing number of cities, we will continue to pay heed
to issues such as how the Local Rules may be amended according to the
requirements of Administrative Rules, and how various local governments may
interpret and specify the safety requirements and assumptions of liability as
set out in the Administrative Rules.

HongBin Zhang    Partner          Tel: 86 10 8553 7625    

Yang Zhao     
Associate      Tel: 86
10 8553 7807              Email:

He Yang          Associate      Tel: 86 10 8553 7731      Email:

[1]See the
records of the joint press conference on Administrative
Rules of Road Testing of Intelligent Connected Vehicles (for Trial
held by the Ministry of Industry and Information
Technology, the Ministry of Public Security and the Ministry of Transportation
on April 12, 2018:

[2] The Administrative
Rules require the test subject to purchase compulsory accident liability insurance,
as well as accident liability insurance of no less than RMB 5 million or self-driving
road testing accident indemnity of not less than RMB 5 million for each test

[3] This provision
refers to the Beijing rules on road testing, and adds the requirement of “or
entering into labor service contract” in addition to the Beijing rule of
“entering into employment contracts.”

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