This is one news story that will surely anger Donald Trump: China is set to beat the U.S. in the race to self-driving cars.

It seems like China’s always claiming the top spot for something, and the latest we’re hearing from the country is that they have their sights set on self driving cars – and soon. 

And if recent history has taught us anything, it’s that once the Chinese set out to do something, it’s only a matter of time until they do.

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In the past few decades, car sales have spiked in China, a country where once the scooter and bike were the only way to get around. Now there are millions of vehicles clogging the roads everywhere.

The car has become a status symbol, and many middle class Chinese are racing to have the newest, shiniest models.

One of the major problems with the current transport model in China is that traffic jams sometimes back up commuters for tens of miles, and it can take hours to get through it.

traffic jam

In one particularly awful incident in 2010 (pictured above), traffic was backed up for 60 miles and it took some drivers five days to get through. Five. days.

Can you imagine being stuck there for that long?

The New York Times recently reported on the work of Gasha Wu, a Chinese engineer who’s been working tirelessly to develop autonomous cars.

Wu’s work was not without an echo, as Kai-Fu Lee, the former Google head in China observes:

“They combine a mechanical expert from a university, a top computer vision expert and machine learning from Google as well as Gansha and his team of semiconductor experts. Gansha is an excellent leader that binds these people together.”

 

Estimates say that the U.S. will see the first fully autonomous cars on the streets by the end of the decade, and Wu’s company, Uisee, has an even tighter deadline, as they plan on unveiling their concept car at next year’s CES.

3 ways China’s already beating the U.S.

China being better than the United States isn’t exactly new, and there are some pretty big areas where the Chinese domination has already begun.

There’s no doubt that there are many drawbacks to Communism, but you have to hand it to them – once a decision has been made and the details ironed out, it’s pretty much smooth sailing.

Here are 3 ways China’s already ahead:

#1: The box office

theater

Boom, right where it hurts. For all the Hollywood movies that pride themselves in their huge domestic sales, you’d think that this is where most of their profit comes from.

But 2015 saw China surpass the United States in ticket sales for the first time in history, pulling in $650 million in ticket sales, $10 million more than the U.S. sales.

And this is just the beginning. With more and more of the Chinese population gaining money and becoming middle class, and with their huge expansion of shopping centers and movie theaters, those numbers are just going to go higher by the year.

And wait until the Chinese government starts cracking down on piracy!

#2: Internet users

internet cafe

Judging by the numbers, China is doing much better in terms of internet access. They have 642 million people online, while the US only has 280 million. 

If we’re honest, China still has a long way to go to catch up to the US in terms of the percentage of population that has access to the internet – after all, their population is almost four times bigger than that of the U.S.

#3: Renewable energy

wind power

This drives the point home to me. Just a decade ago, China was seriously lagging behind in renewables. We all know the infamous smog that covers China’s biggest cities – and they don’t like it any more than we would.

So in the past few years, they’ve made huge progress in building renewable energy sources, making China cleaner little by little.

Now, 21% of their electricity comes from renewables, as opposed to 12.6% in the US. And they’re not stopping here, as it’s reported that China is leading in building environmentally friendly energy sources.

But getting back to the autonomous cars, who do you think will win in the race between China and the rest of the world? Will they be the first to put self-driving cars on the road?

Image sources: gigazine.net, kataeb.orgtucsiad.org.tr, dk.3dn.ru, ekspertai.eu

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