Chinese tech giant Baidu has officially launched an autonomous ride-sharing service in the capital Beijing, after receiving the country’s first license for commercial robotaxi services.
Why is this important: This is the first time that the Chinese government has allowed companies to legally charge the public Uber-like fees for their robotaxi services, a major step in the development of China’s autonomous car.
Details: The service, known as Apollo Go (or Luobo Kuaipao in Chinese), transports passengers over an area of 60 square kilometers (about 23 square miles) in the Beijing Economic and Technological Development Zone, south of the city, Baidu said Thursday.
- A 55-year-old resident named Yuan took the first commercial trip to the platform and paid 1.34 RMB ($ 0.2) for her 3-km trip (with a 95% reduction), according to one. announcement released Thursday (in Chinese).
- Qualified users can locate any of the 67 self-driving cars nearby and flag a ride on their own using the Apollo Go app. Baidu currently operates the fleet from 7 am to 10 pm daily in the region.
The context: Baidu, along with the autonomous unicorn Pony.ai, obtained approval from the Beijing High Level Automated Driving Demonstration Zone Headquarters to start charging for rides using autonomous vehicles (AV) in the area, China daily reported Thursday.
- Pony.ai said in a announcement (in Chinese) that he will gradually transform his free trial service, which started in April, into a commercial service in the future, without revealing more details.
- Baidu launched a fully driverless, pay-per-view robotaxi pilot project using 10 AVs in the Shougang Industrial Park on the outskirts of Beijing in May, and plans to expand the fleet to more than 100 vehicles during the Winter Olympics in Beijing. Beijing next February.
- The search engine company said its robotaxi project offered 115,000 rides in the third quarter of this year and that its test vehicles traveled 10 million kilometers in September. Google’s autonomous driving unit, Waymo, announced in January 2020 that its vehicles had driven 20 million kilometers on public roads, Quartz reported.