Yesterday, leading tech company Baidu launched China’s first commercial fully autonomous taxi service.
10 of the company’s Apollo Go are now operating at Beijing’s Shougang Park – one of the venues of the upcoming 2022 Beijing Winter Olympics – covering a 3 square kilometer range with eight pick-up/drop-off stops, reported Shanghai Daily.
With no driver behind the wheel, Baidu aims to deliver a real driverless experience à la Waymo, although for now, a safety staff member occupies the front passenger seat to take over in case of an emergency.
Passengers can call a robotaxi via the Apollo Go App. They can locate it using virtual reality navigation and remote car honking. When the taxi arrives, they need to scan a QR code and a health code for identification and pandemic prevention purposes.
The taxi will start its journey after the seatbelts are fastened and the doors are shut.
Each trip costs ¥30 ($4.60), and anyone aged between 18 and 60 can hail a ride.
Apart from enabling transport services during the upcoming Winter Olympics, Baidu plans to expand its robotaxis in more Chinese cities.
With this move, the company is leaving its other Chinese competitors such as WeRide, Didi, and AutoX behind.
That also should help China rival the US in smart mobility, and hopefully further the country’s mission to tackle its severe environmental pollution issues.
Do EVs excite your electrons? Do ebikes get your wheels spinning? Do self-driving cars get you all charged up?
Then you need the weekly SHIFT newsletter in your life. Click here to sign up.
Get the Shift newsletter
Get the most important mobility news in your inbox each week.Follow @shift_tnw