China has reportedly dedicated a mountainous stretch of highway in eastern Shandong province for testing connected, self-driving vehicles.

The decision is said to be have been made as part of the country’s efforts to challenge the US in autonomous driving technology.

According to South China Morning Post the local Qilu Transportation Development Group earmarked a 26-kilometre-long (16 miles) highway for autonomous driving and vehicle-to-infrastructure communication. The highway testing has been made in cooperation with partners including Chinese telecom gear provider Huawei Technologies and China Mobile.

The test section is a typical mountain motorway with three tunnels, a bridge and three toll stations, providing different testing scenarios, reports South China Morning Post. Equipment such as road sensors, laser and microwave radars, panoramic video surveillance, have been tested, as well as weather monitoring and traffic signs that can communicate with vehicles.

The project reportedly plans to build a world-class testing, research and development centre and incubator for driverless vehicles by 2023. In the next five years it intends to explore integrated innovative business models surrounding smart infrastructure, new energy, autonomous driving, logistics, tourism and more.

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