From Batman to Transformers, self-driving cars have long captured the popular imagination.
And China, where the pervasive use of artificial intelligence (AI) technologies extends from sorting rubbish to traffic control, is a natural testing ground for companies jostling to make this sci-fi fantasy a reality.
They are part of a global move towards autonomous vehicles, which are quickly becoming the world’s first major AI revolution.
The sector has drawn billions of dollars of investment over the past few years, with the global autonomous vehicles market projected to be worth US$65.3 billion (S$88.8 billion) by 2027, according to a report by Market Research Future.
Major US players such as Google, Tesla and General Motors have jumped on board with projects trialing the technology, and Chinese firms are racing to catch up: more than 100,000 trips have already been taken on Alphabet’s Waymo One, its commercial self-driving ride-hailing service, since it was launched in Arizona, US last December.