Chinese AV Tech could Pose Spying Risk, US Warns

Paul Myles, European Editor

July 21, 2023

1 Min Read
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Data collection potential of Chinese vehicles fitted with automated driving technology could pose spying risks for western societies.

That’s the warning from the US Transportation Secretary Pete Buttigieg who said his agency has national security concerns about Chinese autonomous vehicle companies in the American market after lawmakers called for restrictions on their operations. Speaking to the Reuters news agency, Buttigieg said the US needs to better understand “the true ownership of the different enterprises that are supplying different elements of our transportation systems”.

His comments follow a letter from a bipartisan group of four lawmakers who asked for an investigation into the prevalence of Chinese AV technology in the US and how it can be restricted because they are particularly concerned about AV vehicle and equipment testing on public roads.

Their letter read: “Technology used by AVs, LiDAR, radar, cameras, AI and other advanced sensors and semiconductors can all be used to collect data on the American people and infrastructure that could be shared back to China and ultimately to the Chinese Communist Party (CCP).”

The letter cites data from California regulators showing seven Chinese firms, including Baidu's Apollo and robo-taxi start-up Pony.ai, tested autonomous vehicles in the most-populous US state last year. Many western AV companies have cut costs and jobs with some, such as Ford and Volkswagen funded Argo AI, closing down altogether. Major players still pursuing development include General Motors' Cruise unit, Alphabet's Waymo and Amazon's Zoox. Buttigieg told Reuters: “Whether we are talking about hardware or software, in the same way there are concerns around telecom or TikTok, there are concerns around transportation technologies.”

— Paul Myles is a seasoned automotive journalist based in Europe. Follow him on Twitter @Paulmyles_  and Threads

About the Author(s)

Paul Myles

European Editor, Informa Group

Paul Myles is an award-winning journalist based in Europe covering all aspects of the automotive industry. He has a wealth of experience in the field working at specialist, national and international levels.

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