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无人驾驶汽车,中国创业者的新冒险

更新时间:2016-4-6 10:04:12 来源:纽约时报中文网 作者:佚名

China’s Companies Poised to Take Leap in Developing a Driverless Car
无人驾驶汽车,中国创业者的新冒险

Gansha Wu was a veteran engineering manager at Intel Corporation and director of Intel Labs China when two events upended his world last year.

去年,两件事颠覆了当时还是英特尔资深工程管理者兼英特尔中国研究院(Intel Labs China)院长的吴甘沙的世界。

First, he listened to the veteran technology writer Michael Malone tell an audience of Intel employees that if they were too cautious they would fail. Then he attended a leadership training session for Intel executives. The trainer told them that “to be a leader is to design a future that is unpredictable and which nobody bets on.”

他先是听到资深科技作家迈克尔‧马隆(Michael Malone)在演讲中对英特尔员工说,行事过于谨慎便会失败。后来,他又参加了一场为英特尔高管举办的领导力培训。培训师告诉这些主管,“当领导就是设计一个不可预知的、无人押注的未来”。

He couldn’t sleep at night, thinking about his well-ordered, 16-year career at Intel. So he decided to take a risk. With four colleagues, he made the decision to take the uncertain path, which today is becoming more common in China than even in Silicon Valley: He quit his job to begin a start-up that specializes in autonomous, or self-driving, cars.

吴甘沙夜不成眠,思考着自己在英特尔那井然有序的十六载职业生涯。于是他决定要冒一次险。他与四名同事一起,决定走上一条未知的道路:辞去工作,成立一家专注于自动驾驶汽车的创业公司。在现如今的中国,这种决定甚至比在硅谷更常见。

In the process, Mr. Wu hit upon a rare moment when a tech sector in China is developing in lock step with a similar but separate market in the United States.

在这个过程中,吴甘沙遇到了一个罕见的时机,中国的科技业正在和美国那个有些类似却又独立的市场同步发展。

In fact, some argue that conditions in China are actually more favorable for quick adoption of driverless cars, in part because of more aggressive support from the national and local governments. And, unlike in the United States, China never fully developed a romance with the open road and car ownership.

实际上,有人声称中国迅速采用无人驾驶汽车的条件实际上比美国更有利,部分因为中央和地方政府的支持力度更大。而且不像美国,中国从未与自由驰骋和私家车建立起深厚的感情。

Car ownership has spiked in China, of course. And in recent years, it has become a middle-class status symbol to own a car. For the ultrawealthy, there are clubs dedicated to Ferraris and Maseratis.

当然,中国的汽车拥有量激增。近年来,有一辆车已经成了中产阶级的地位象征。对巨富来说,还有专门面向法拉利(Ferraris)和玛莎拉蒂(Maseratis)的俱乐部。

But enormous traffic jams in China’s largest cities can make driving a less-than-romantic experience. Why not let a machine built with artificial intelligence inside do the work for you?

不过,中国大城市里的交通堵塞问题严重,让开车成了一种不那么浪漫的经历。既然如此,何不让一台用人工智能打造的机器来代劳呢?

Research done by the Boston Consulting Group suggests that within 15 years China will be the largest market for autonomous vehicles, said Xavier Mosquet, a managing director at the firm. Automated taxis will most likely lead the trend.

波士顿咨询公司(Boston Consulting Group)常务董事泽维尔‧莫斯奎特(Xavier Mosquet)表示,该公司的研究显示,中国将在15年内成为最大的自动驾驶车辆市场。自动驾驶出租车极有可能引领这股潮流。

“It’s not that people are more willing to use the cars in Beijing or Shanghai, it’s that the economic value is much higher in China than in the U.S.,” Mr. Mosquet said, adding that air pollution could be as much a catalyst as bad traffic.

“这不是因为北京和上海的人更愿意使用无人驾驶汽车,而是因为它们在中国的经济价值比在美国更高,”莫斯奎特说。他还接着表示,空气污染起到的促进作用可能堪比糟糕的交通状况。

Even as American companies like Google and Tesla work on autonomous vehicles, a number of Chinese companies are working on driverless car technology. The Internet company Leshi Internet Information & Technology (better known as Letv) has a driverless car tech unit, and the Chinese carmaker Great Wall Motors has opened a research center in Silicon Valley. The assumed leader in the field in China is the search engine company Baidu, which has been at work on autonomous vehicles since 2013.

在谷歌(Google)和特斯拉(Tesla)等美国公司都在开发自动驾驶车辆之际,大量中国公司也在研究无人驾驶汽车技术。互联网公司乐视网信息技术股份有限公司(简称乐视)就设立了一个无人车技术部门,中国汽车生产商长城汽车也在硅谷开设了一个研究中心。从2013年就开始研究自动驾驶车辆的搜索引擎公司百度,被认为是这一领域的领导者。

Among the torrent of start-ups, however, Mr. Wu and his colleagues are unusual because of their experience.

然而,在这股创业公司的洪流中,吴甘沙和同事因其自身的资历而与众不同。

Mr. Wu’s company, Uisee Technology, has yet to announce its financial backers, but it has significant ambitions. The team plans to have a technology demonstration ready in less than a year at the consumer electronics show in Las Vegas in 2017.

吴甘沙成立的公司驱势科技尚未公布投资方,但该公司雄心勃勃。其团队计划用不到一年的时间,为2017年在拉斯维加斯的电子消费品展览会上进行技术演示做好准备。

“His team is an unusual collection of supertalent,” said Kai-Fu Lee, a venture investor from Taiwan and former head of Google in China. “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.”

“他的团队汇聚了一群不寻常的超级人才,”李开复称,他是一名来自台湾的风险投资人,前谷歌大中华区总裁。“除了吴甘沙和他的半导体专家团队,还有一名大学的机械专家、一名顶级计算机视觉专家、来自谷歌的机器学习技术。吴甘沙是一名出色的领导人,能够将这样的一群人聚集在一起。”

The founders of Uisee, which is an acronym for Utilization, Indiscriminate, Safety, Efficiency and Environment, say they believe the company will find a profitable niche between the poles of the driverless car debate that is raging in Silicon Valley.

驭势科技(Uisee)的创始人说,驭势科技(Uisee)是由五个单词构成的首字母缩略词,依次对应的是对时间的利用(Utilization)、无歧视(Indiscriminate)、安全(Safety)、效率(Efficiency)和环境(Environment),他们相信公司能够在硅谷大肆展开的有关无人驾驶汽车的两极分化争论中找到一个有利可图的细分市场。

Elon Musk, the chief executive of Tesla, has predicted that completely self-driving cars may be on the road in the United States in two to four years. Chris Urmson, the director of Google’s self-driving-car program, has said his goal is to bring a self-driving car to market by 2019.

特斯拉(Tesla)首席执行官埃隆·马斯克(Elon Musk)曾预言,在未来的2-4年内,完全的自动驾驶汽车或许能够在美国上路。谷歌无人驾驶汽车项目主管克里斯·厄姆森(Chris Urmson)曾说,他的目标是在2019年使无人驾驶汽车进入市场。

Others are more cautious, and say they believe it may take a decade or longer for self-driving cars to hit the market. And among the biggest automakers like Toyota, the interest is less in cars that drive themselves than in cars that have artificial intelligence capabilities to assist drivers, like emergency braking.

其余的无人驾驶汽车研发团体则更为谨慎,他们称,无人驾驶汽车可能需要十年或更久才能投入市场。对丰田等最大的一些汽车制造商而言,相较于研发无人驾驶汽车,它们对辅助驾驶员的人工智能功能,例如紧急制动,更感兴趣。

“We see a few stages toward fully autonomous driving,” said Mr. Wu, adding that safety technologies are coming quickly. He said driver assistance systems will be followed by completely driverless cars in restricted circumstances, such as on private roads, fixed routes at low speed and in controlled environments. Uisee will begin by developing technologies that assist rather than replace drivers.

“我们看得见通向全自动驾驶汽车的一些步骤。”吴甘沙说,并表示安全技术发展迅猛,他表示,驾驶员辅助系统出现之后,会是有限条件下的无人驾驶汽车,譬如在受控环境下,在私人路段上,以及按照固定路线低速行使。驭势将以研发驾驶辅助科技起步,而非取代驾驶员的科技。

Baidu has teamed up with BMW and recently said it was testing its technology in the United States. Baidu has said it is preparing to introduce automated public transportation services in China within the next two years.

百度与宝马联手,并在最近称,它正在美国测试无人驾驶技术。百度已表示,它打算在两年内将自动公共交通服务引进中国。

Unlike Google, which has had difficulty convincing regulators in its home state, California, that self-driving cars are ready for the road, Baidu already has the regulatory and infrastructure support of a number of local Chinese governments, which it will use to introduce small autonomous buses that will run set routes.

在其总部所在的加利福尼亚州,谷歌难以让监管机构相信,自动驾驶汽车已经为上路做好了准备。与此不同的是,在中国,百度已经得到了很多地方政府在监管和基础设施方面的支持。百度将借助这些政府力量,推出在指定线路运行的小型自动驾驶公共汽车。

The Chinese government is playing a major role in the overall driverless market. Along with empowering Baidu to run public transportation, in other cases central and local governments have been investing in research and development for driverless car projects.

在整个无人驾驶市场上,中国政府正在发挥主要作用。除授权百度经营公共交通外,中央和地方政府也一直在投资无人驾驶汽车项目的研发。

Mr. Wu also embodies a growing entrepreneurial movement in China. The Chinese government reported that 4.8 million new companies were registered from March 2014 to May 2015, a rate of 10,600 new businesses per day, or seven every minute. Even though venture investment has begun to dry up in China recently, the nation has clearly been infected with a Silicon Valley attitude.

吴甘沙也是中国不断高涨的创业潮的象征。中国政府通报称,2014年3月至2015年5月,中国新增480万家注册公司,相当于每天增加10600家,或者说每分钟七家。尽管中国的风险投资最近开始枯竭,但该国显然已经被一种硅谷态度感染了。

Although in some quarters it is still known as the land of copycat technology, China has long since moved on to copying the start-up ethos of the Valley, with more and more entrepreneurs creating their own companies.

尽管在一些领域,中国依然被称作山寨技术大国,但中国早已发展到了效仿硅谷的创业潮流的阶段。越来越多的企业家创办了自己的公司。

The Chinese government is encouraging the boom as a way to solve a number of economic problems, including unemployment and the transition of the economy from one centered on manufacturing to one based on services.

中国政府正在鼓励这种繁荣,认为这是一个解决诸多经济问题的途径,包括失业和经济从以制造业为中心到以服务业为重心的转型。

“This year more than seven million people are entering the job market in China,” said Haiyang Li, a professor at the Jesse H. Jones Graduate School of Business at Rice University in Houston. “What are they going to do with these students? The government does not have any better way to solve the employment issue.”

“今年,中国会有700多万人进入就业市场,”休斯顿莱斯大学杰西·H·琼斯商学院研究生院(Jesse H. Jones Graduate School of Business at Rice University)教授李海洋说。“他们要怎么处理这些学生?政府根本没有更好的解决就业问题的办法。”

Even as analysts and investors worry the government is over-investing in start-ups, the state support, along with China’s engineering talent and the business need for self-driving cars, could help the nascent business in China.

尽管分析人士和投资者担心,政府对创业公司投资过度,但政府的支持,再加上中国的工程人才和对自动驾驶汽车的商业需求,可能会对中国无人驾驶汽车这个新兴行业有所裨益。

But there are obstacles. In China, roads often have poorly marked lanes and little signage. People, animals, three-wheel rickshaws and trucks are liable to veer in front of a car at any time. That makes for a more challenging engineering problem in China, said Junyi Zhang, a partner with the consulting firm Roland Berger.

但也存在障碍。在中国,道路上的车道往往标识不清,缺乏引导标志。行人、动物、三轮车和卡车任何时候都可能窜到汽车前面。咨询公司罗兰贝格(Roland Berger)的合伙人张君毅表示,这导致中国工程问题的挑战性增加。

“It is harder in China, where many roads have pedestrians, bicycles, low-speed vehicles and high-speed vehicles all mixed together,” he said. “It is a very complicated environment, and many don’t ride or drive to the same standard.”

“在中国更难,很多路上,行人、自行车、低速车辆和高速车辆全都混在一起,”他说。“环境非常复杂,很多人不按照统一的标准行驶。”

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