Baidu has turn into the primary firm in China granted a allow to run a business self-driving taxi service with out the necessity for a security driver.
Baidu’s service, generally known as Apollo Go, has been up and operating in components of China since 2021, however at all times with a security driver both behind the wheel or within the entrance passenger seat.
That modified on Monday when the corporate introduced its service is now permitted on open roads within the cities of Chongqing and Wuhan and not using a security driver, albeit solely throughout daylight spanning 9 a.m. to five p.m. in Chongqing and 9 a.m. to 4:30 p.m. in Wuhan. The zones through which the taxis presently function are additionally restricted, measuring about 12 sq. miles in Chongqing’s Yongchuan district and simply 5 in Wuhan’s Technological Improvement Zone.
The plan is to broaden these zones in addition to add extra cities. Baidu’s taxis are additionally working in components of Beijing, Shanghai, Guangzhou, and Shenzhen, and the corporate is searching for permission to have the companies in Beijing and Guangzhou freed of the necessity for a security driver subsequent.
Baidu additionally goals to double the variety of its taxis on Chinese language roads to round 600 by the top of the 12 months.
“It is a great qualitative change,” Wei Dong, head of Baidu’s Clever Driving Group, stated in a press release. “Totally driverless automobiles offering rides on open roads to paying clients means now we have lastly come to the second that the trade has been eager for.”
Baidu’s Apollo RT6 self-driving taxi
To obtain the allow, Baidu’s taxis wanted to endure intensive testing and licensing, ranging from testing with a security driver behind the wheel to having the protection driver within the entrance passenger seat after which lastly receiving permission to function with out anybody on board.
Baidu, which is usually described because the Google of China as the corporate runs the most important search engine within the nation, additionally on Monday revealed its sixth-generation self-driving taxi. Dubbed the Apollo RT6, the car is claimed to have a unit value of 250,000 renminbi (roughly $37,000) and can begin operation in 2023.
Within the U.S., Alphabet’s Waymo and Normal Motors-backed Cruise are allowed to cost fares of their respective driverless taxis. Waymo’s service is restricted to components of Phoenix however is being examined in San Francisco, whereas Cruise’s service is restricted to components of San Francisco.