The Chinese government recently approved the country’s tech group Baidu Inc. and autonomous car startup Pony.ai to launch their paid driverless robotaxi services in Beijing. The companies will firm deploy not more than 100 vehicles.
The announcement was reported in the state-backed Beijing Daily newspaper, citing a ceremony held by the Beijing Economic and Technological Development Zone, where the 60 square kilometre-large area (23 square miles) is located.
According to Baidu, this would be its autonomous robotaxi service, termed – Apollo Go service’s first commercial deployment on open roads.
The company also reported that ts customers will be able to book one of the daily service’s 67 cars at more than 600 pick-up and drop-off points. These points are situated in both commercial and residential areas. It will charge similar fares to that of its level of premium ride-hailing services in the country.
Pony.ai, the Chinese startup company, backed by Toyota Motor Corp also confirmed that it had received the approval for its Xiaoma Zhixing service from Beijing.
Several automakers and technology firms are reported to be investing billions of dollars in autonomous driving. Such modes of vehicle are aimed to take an early lead in what is expected to the future of mobility.
The tech company, Baidu earlier in May had officially launched paid autonomous robotaxi services in a much smaller area in capital’s Shougang Park that was of 2.7 square kilometres. Company CEO Robin Li commented that it aims for the Apollo Go service to be in 65 cities by 2025 and 100 cities by 2030.
It has reportedly been testing autonomous driving on public roads since October in the capital city. And over the years it has developed several smart car technologies, such as high-definition maps, with the autonomous driving unit Apollo established in 2017.
The company’s driverless Apollo Robotaxi can be hailed and paid for through the Apollo Go App.
Whilst recently, another autonomous vehicle startup AutoX from the country itself, backed by Alibaba Group announced that it had expanded its robotaxi zone in the southern city of Shenzhen. It credited to become the country’s largest fully autonomous robotaxi zone, at an area covering 65 square miles (168 square km).