On Thursday, China’s technology giant Baidu has announced that it is launching paid driverless robotaxi services in Beijing from May 2. Technology firms across the world are working on their driverless cars, and Baidu’s robotaxi launch will make it one of the first companies globally to offer autonomous driving service.
Baidu has named its driverless taxi, Apollo Robotaxi. It will be launched in Beijing’s Shougang Park. The company said that there won’t be a safety driver behind the steering wheel, signalling its confidence in its driverless technology.
Users can hire an Apollo Robotaxi through the Apollo Go App. Baidu was seen testing its autonomous driving technology on public roads in Beijing since October last year. The company had set up its autonomous driving unit Apollo in 2017, and has been working on developing smart car technologies with other automobile manufacturers.
While announcing the launch of the service, the general manager of autonomous driving technology at Baidu said that introducing unmanned services is an indispensable stage for the commercialization of autonomous driving. “Apollo will launch driverless robotaxis in more Chinese cities in the future,” he added.
Baidu has worked with Chinese automaker Geely on its autonomous electric car taxi in a joint venture named Jidu Auto. The venture is expected to invest $7.7 billion to make smart cars over the next five years.
Besides Baidu, Alibaba-backed AutoX is ramping up its autonomous taxi plans. The company has previously announced that it’ll begin offering paid driverless rides to public users in Shenzhen. Another Chines company in the autonomous driving space is Nissan-backed Chinese autonomous driving startup WeRide, which is also testing driverless vehicles in the country.