The Driverless Commute: China issues first batch of L4-level automotive road-test driving licenses—all to Baidu

On July 1, 2019, the Beijing Automotive Driving Test Management Joint-Committee issued the first batch of L4 Level Automobile Road-Test driving licenses. The batch contained five licenses and all were obtained by Baidu, making it the first, and the only, company in China to have received the L4 license. The L4 license certificate is China’s number one, open-road, test-level qualification certificate, with the highest technical level, highest standard and most difficult testing scenarios.

Receiving the L4 license means that one’s autonomous vehicle has the ability to complete automated driving in complicated metropolitan roads at a level much higher than required by the T3 license. Compared to the T3, the L4 license represents Beijing’s superior automotive technology, as well as its commitment to practical application of the technology. In addition, the different licenses are also a way to establish different levels of safety requirements for the new technology.

Compared to the T3 license, the L4 license has increased the complexity of testing scenarios in regard to the same test subjects. An L4 license requires the automobile to be able to:

  • Pass tunnels, schools and other locations
  • Respond to illegal passing of pedestrians, construction sites and other complex scenarios
  • Correctly recognize multiple traffic elements, such as tidal lanes, variable guide lanes, left turn wait in intersection, temporary traffic lights, and other special traffic lights and traffic lanes
  • Correctly realize obstacle-free transportation

L4 licenses also require the autonomous vehicle to be able to:

  • Overtake other vehicles
  • Operate on slopes
  • Park and start on slopes with an error margin of less than 15cm

L4 licenses also test the autonomous vehicles on their ability to:

  • Conduct parking in a parking garage
  • Conduct parallel parking
  • Recognize and respond to pedestrians and obstacles in a garage setting, as well as other detailed scenarios

The L4 license is the most difficult autonomous license to obtain. It not only requires high technical standards, as stated above, but its testing process is very rigorous, with multiple testing segments.

In the first testing segment, the autonomous vehicle must pass a 5000km+ road test in Beijing’s Yizhuang Autonomous Driving Testing Facility: the largest and highest-level testing facility in Beijing with the highest number of testing scenarios. This testing facility includes high speed roads, fast lanes, city roads, country roads and more scenarios, covering 85 percent of all possible city driving scenarios in the Beijing region.

In the second testing segment, the autonomous vehicle must pass 102 scenario coverage tests at a 100 percent success rate. This testing segment added 19 difficult scenario tests in comparison to the T3 level tests.

Afterwards, the vehicle needs to pass the L4-level ability assessment test, where the vehicle must complete all randomly generated tests along the L4-level testing route in a single attempt. If the vehicle failed any one of the testing items, then they will fail the entire assessment test.

In the next step, a panel of experts will assess the performance of the vehicle, taking into consideration the technological capacity of the corporation, their quality assurance and testing system, their standardization and implementation of safety management, the company’s ability to handle accidents, as well as other comprehensive abilities.

Finally, the Beijing Automotive Driving Test Management Joint-Committee conducts a final review. Only then can the L4-level automotive vehicle license be issued.

Testing Entity Number of vehicles licensed to test Number of vehicles effectively tested Net Tested Mileage (km)
Baidu 45 45 139,887.7
NIO 2 1 2,415.3
BAIC BJEV 1 0 235.1
Daimler 2 2 476 2 2 10,132.9
Tencent 1 1 259
DiDi 2 2 78.1
Audi 1 1 80.9
TOTAL 56 54 153,565

Ed. note: A version of this article was previously posted on


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Henry (Litong) Chen

About Henry (Litong) Chen

Before joining Dentons, Henry Chen was AP Compliance Director of Ford Motor Company responsible for monitoring and managing compliance risks under various jurisdictions, and conducting investigations and compliance reviews on unusual events.

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