China's Car Tracking is Either Very Useful or Very Creepy

By Chris Mills on at

According to Reuters, the Chinese city of Shenzen is experimenting with electronic tracking of vehicles. Depending on your slant, this could either be a big step forward for driverless cars, or an autocratic regime run wild.

The city is conducting a pilot programme, with 200,000 electronic IDs currently issued to a range of vehicles such as school buses and heavy-duty trucks. If all goes well, the project will be expanded to all private vehicles in the city.

Without more details from China’s famously tight-lipped authorities, it’s difficult to take a stance on the project. Knowing the exact location of all vehicles in a city would be a huge boon for planners: self-driving cars could all be controlled by one central grid, or more boringly, traffic lights could finally work on an optimal pattern.

Of course, there’s also the far more scary and 1984 reality that a Chinese government division now knows the exact location of (eventually) every car in Shenzen, which makes cracking down on dissidents a whole lot easier. [Reuters]

Image by Tsering Topgyal/AP Photo