China Raises Concerns In US With ‘Rolling Surveillance Devices’

WeRide self-driving car

As Chinese companies test their autonomous vehicles on American roads, concerns are growing about the vast amounts of data these “rolling surveillance devices” are collecting and the potential national security implications.

Fortune reports that in recent years, Chinese-owned companies have been quietly testing their self-driving cars on American roads, particularly in California. While this may seem like a harmless part of technological advancement, experts are raising alarms about the potential national security risks associated with these vehicles.

Since 2017, self-driving cars owned by Chinese companies have traversed 1.8 million miles in California alone, according to data from the state’s Department of Motor Vehicles. These vehicles, equipped with advanced cameras, sensors, and mapping technology, are capable of collecting massive amounts of data about their surroundings, including detailed video footage and precise geospatial information.

Among the 35 companies approved to test autonomous vehicles in California, seven are wholly or partly China-based. Five of these companies — WeRide, Apollo, AutoX,, and DiDi Research America — were active on California roads last year. Some of these companies also have permission to test in other states like Arizona and Texas.

The concern lies not just in the amount of data collected, but also in how it’s stored and potentially accessed. Some Chinese self-driving car companies appear to store U.S. data in China, according to privacy policies reviewed by Fortune. This situation effectively leaves the data accessible to the Chinese government, experts warn.

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