Map makers have always found legal restrictions by the Chinese government as a barrier on their way. But now the country wants to become a leader in self-driving cars, Shanghai-based lawyer Mark Schaub expects fast changes in the legal bureaucracy for maps, he tells at China Law Insight. Restrictions for foreign investors might stay in place, he fears.
China does face a dilemma – on the one hand it has a strong interest in tightly regulating surveying and mapping activities but on the other hand it has a strong ambition to become a world leader in autonomous cars.
We expect that autonomous cars is so important that China will indeed make necessary change as to how it regulates surveying and mapping laws or at least their practical implementation in regards to HD maps.
One example of China’s efforts in this regard is the 2017 revision to the Surveying and Mapping Law which required a unified national system of continuously operating reference stations (CORS). The CORS system is able to provide accurate positioning to the centimeter or even millimeter level. In May 2017, the national CORS system was put into operation – this is a fundamental step in providing the accurate positioning data needed for HD Maps in China.
In addition, the 2016 NASG Notice also notes that the authority is speeding up the study and formation of policies on autonomous driving maps. In a news conference held by NASG in 2017 it was announced that the authority will strongly support the development of autonomous driving in China and has been actively conducting research on relevant policies and map processing technology.
However, we are less optimistic about the restrictions on foreign investment being relaxed anytime soon. We would anticipate that these will remain in place so that foreign companies interested in the China market or needing to serve the China market as part of a global strategy will need to find an accommodation within the current framework – either a joint venture or cooperation.
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