You are currently viewing China : Baidu and continue deployment of driverless robotaxis

Chinese companies Baidu and continue expanding their autonomous robotaxi services in several cities in China. Recently, they have obtained the necessary licences to test Level 4 vehicles in Beijing.

Autonomous driving is classified into different levels from L1 to L5. The higher the level, the more intelligent the technology. L4 autonomy means that the car can drive itself under most conditions without a backup driver. This is one level below L5, which is generally described as fully automated, and capable of driving itself under all conditions.

These driverless vehicles promise to provide fast and safe rides for passengers while reducing traffic congestion and greenhouse gas emissions.

Licenses granted after multiple tests

To obtain these licenses, and Baidu had to pass numerous tests of the vehicles in order to meet strict safety criteria and prove the technical quality of their systems. The idea was to demonstrate the vehicles’ ability to overcome complex and extreme scenarios.

Several steps of tests were respected: first, the tests had started with a safety operator in the driver’s seat, then with a safety operator in the passenger’s seat, before finally receiving the license to operate without a driver or human operator in the vehicle. is now allowed to operate driverless robotaxi rides in a 60 square kilometre pilot area in Yizhuang, Beijing, three times larger than the previous 20 square kilometre test area.

A service with dedicated applications

Baidu and’s robot cabs are currently in use in several Chinese cities such as Beijing, Guangzhou, Changsha and Hangzhou.

Users can book a ride through the PonyPilot+ app for from 9 a.m. to 5 p.m. and on Appollo Go between 10 a.m. and 4 p.m., for Baidu. Hundreds of pick-up and drop-off locations are available and include public facilities such as subway stations, parks and stadiums, as well as business centres and residential areas.

Currently, Apollo Go is present in more than 10 cities in China. Robin Li, co-founder and CEO of Baidu announced the ambition of the company to expand the platform Apollo Go services to 65 cities in 2025 and reach 100 in 2030.

A growing industry in China

China is currently a world leader in autonomous driving technology, both in terms of research and development and real-life implementation.

The autonomous driving industry is expected to experience robust growth in the coming years. The market size for self-driving cab services in China is expected to exceed 1.3 trillion yuan (188.6 billion dollars) by 2030, according to a report by global consulting firm IHS Markit.

Policies to support the development of rabotaxis are increasing. Baidu and are not the only companies working on such technology. Many start-ups are taking up this challenge and the amounts raised by these start-ups are significant. Alongside them, the technological giants, starting with Baidu, Didi and Alibaba have also launched similar projects.

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