How far is the self-driving future?
By Yang Chengxi

Chinese and international car companies are expected to showcase their self-driving technologies at the second China International Import Expo. But how advanced is the self-driving tech of today? When are we really going to take our hands, eyes or even minds off the road and the steering wheel?

There are quite a number of issues to consider. Today's self-driving technology is still not able to handle certain complicated real-world scenarios. Should it fail, how and when does it hand over back to the driver, who might be dangerously unprepared at the moment?

New technologies like faster AI-chip, vehicle-to-city communications and the super-fast 5G network are expected to help self-driving cars avoid such scenarios. Whether such potential accidents could be minimized to a reasonable scale awaits to be seen.

Should an accident occur, legal dilemmas would start to appear too. If a self-driving car hits a pedestrian without the driver's knowledge. Who's responsible? When the system is faced between the dilemma of saving the driver or many more innocent people who are in danger, how should the system choose? This is the classic "trolley car" problem of the 21st century.

Regulators around the world are still working on laws, rules and regulations in this area, and they should approach these issues with care.