Engineers in China say unmanned automobiles will travel from Beijing to Tianjin, a distance of 75 miles, sometime next year in a test of driverless technology.
The vehicles will monitor their environment, process it and respond accordingly with the help of global positioning systems, ultrasonic radar and a variety of sensors, China's state-run Xinhua news agency reported Thursday.
In addition to the 2013 test, the vehicles are set to attempt a longer test drive from Beijing to the city of Shenzhen in south China's Guangdong Province some 1,500 miles away, officials at the country's National Natural Science Foundation said.
The country's research into autonomous automobiles, despite recent technological breakthroughs, still lags behind the global level, said Zheng Nanning, head of an expert panel advising the project.
Many factors need to be taken into account in the research because the country's driving conditions are more complicated than in many parts of the world, Zheng said.