China army developing unmanned car to 'help driver sleep': Reports

BEIJING (AFP) - The Chinese army is developing an unmanned road vehicle, official military media reported on Wednesday, adding it could be put to civilian use to reduce fatigue at the wheel and allow drivers to "sleep in peace".

The Fierce Lion 3 is fitted with a sophisticated computer which can track nearby traffic, along with radar, video cameras and satellite navigation, enabling it to overtake and make other manoeuvres safely, the report said.

The car - which looks like a standard sports utility vehicle, with cameras added - completed a 114 kilometre test drive in 85 minutes, reaching speeds of 105 kph, according to the PLA Daily, the official newspaper of the People's Liberation Army.

The exercise was described as being on a "highway" and the vehicle overtook slower-moving traffic 33 times, it added, saying that on occasion, it refrained from overtaking because it would be dangerous.

"Researchers did nothing but set the vehicle's destination coordinates," said the newspaper.

At present, military use of remote-controlled vehicles is most prominent in Pakistan, where American officials believe US drone strikes are a vital weapon in the war against Islamist militants.

Several Western automakers are also researching driverless cars.

The PLA Daily said of the Chinese car: "The vehicle can effectively reduce driver fatigue when used for civilian purposes. When the driver is tired, it can enter the unmanned state to allow him to sleep in peace."

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