The pedestrian experience in Shanghai is an interesting one, and by “interesting” we of course mean near fatal. Drivers don’t seem to have a lot of respect for traffic laws (in so far that they exist). Getting from point A to point B in the shortest amount of time possible is the only rule that applies. Anyone who dares stand in the way is, well, expendable. It’s like that game Crazy Taxi, except it’s not a game and you aren’t sitting in the driver’s seat.
Well, fret not, help is on the way, though perhaps not in the way you had imagined. The logic goes something like this: If drivers are wreaking havoc on the road, what if we get rid of them all together and instead have computers navigate automobiles? Brilliant! And who do we have to thank (and probably sue in the not too distant future) for this marvelous idea? Engineers at FAW Hongqi (红旗), of course, the same Hongqi that Forbes magazine named one of the least well known automobile brands in the world. We guess it may have something to do with the quality of their engineers. From Engadget.com, we learned of this:
You probably won’t see this blazing across the Mojave desert in the next DARPA Grand Challenge, but this driverless luxury car may soon be chauffeuring a select few through the streets of China — at what expense to other drivers and pedestrians, we’re not so sure. The vehicle itself is an FAW Hongqi (Red Flag) HQ3 sedan equipped with two cameras to relay information to an onboard computer, which’ll supposedly navigate its way down streets, make turns, and adapt to its environment. In a demonstration at the Northeast Asia Investment and Trade Expo, the car topped out at a paltry 37 mph, but it apparently has a maximum speed of 93 mph, though we really can’t blame them for being a little hesitant to test it.
Chinese engineering? No offense, but Shanghaiist isn’t quite a believer yet. Judging by the number (or rather lack there of) of Hongqi cruising down Huaihai Lu at any given second, apparently neither do most Chinese consumers. Nonetheless, kudos to those Hongqi engineers for “thinking big”, “daring to dream” and all that jazz. Maybe, just maybe one day it’ll actually be popular.