Chinese Self-Driving Cars On US Roads Raise National Security Concerns

Chinese companies have been testing their autonomous vehicles on American roads, sparking concerns over the vast amounts of data these “rolling surveillance devices” are collecting and the potential national security implications. Since 2017, Chinese-owned self-driving cars have driven 1.8 million miles in California alone, equipped with advanced cameras, sensors, and mapping technology capable of gathering detailed video footage and precise geospatial information.

According to Fortune, among the 35 companies approved to test autonomous vehicles in California, seven are wholly or partly China-based, including WeRide, Apollo, AutoX,, and DiDi Research America. These companies are also testing in other states like Arizona and Texas.

Experts worry that some of the data collected by these vehicles is stored in China, potentially accessible to the Chinese government. Craig Singleton, director of the China program at the Foundation for Defense of Democracies, likened the situation to the “wild, wild west” due to the lack of oversight and regulation.

Despite the significant data security concerns, state and federal agencies do not currently monitor or regulate what data these vehicles collect or how it is used. This regulatory gap contrasts sharply with the intense scrutiny faced by other Chinese-owned tech companies like TikTok and Huawei, which have faced potential bans over similar issues.

The data collected by these autonomous vehicles could provide valuable intelligence on U.S. infrastructure, population movements, and individual behaviors, posing risks ranging from targeted disinformation campaigns to more sinister purposes. Meanwhile, American companies are not allowed to conduct similar tests in China without partnering with a licensed Chinese company, highlighting a stark disparity in how the two countries handle such technologies.