China licenses Baidu, Pony AI to charge self-driving taxis

by nativetechdoctor

Baidu and Pony AI have become the first two companies licensed by the Chinese government to commercially deploy driverless taxi services after a successful trial period.

According to the South China Morning Post, the High-level Beijing autonomous driving authority on November 25 allowed Baidu and Pony to be charged for their own driving taxi services (also known as Robotxi) in an area Designated from the wide capital. About 60 square kilometers.

“With the successful trial operation of Baidu’s Apollo Go commercial service, both the number of self-driving cars and the operating area will be further expanded to meet local passenger demand, creating a platform for a larger, more rapid development of self-driving car commercialization,” Baidu said in a statement.

To ensure safety, especially for passengers who are worried about an algorithm that can get them from A to B, there will always be a “security officer” behind the wheel in the taxi. ready to intervene when necessary.

Baidu began testing taxis driverless in September 2020. The mainland internet giant operates a fleet of 67 self-driving cars that run between more than 600 pick-up and drop-off points in the Zone Beijing Economic Development and Technological , part of the permitted zone. The service will operate from 7am to 10pm, and passengers can use the Apollo Go app to take a ride. Both companies have yet to disclose how much they will charge passengers. Analysts predict the fare will be similar to that of a traditional taxi.

Pony AI is a self-driving car technology company founded in late 2016 by James Peng and Lou Tiancheng, formerly two main developers and engineers at Baidu’s self-driving unit. Pony started testing robotaxi in Beijing in May 2021.

“China is taking another step forward in autonomous driving exploration as dozens of companies are engaged in developing critical technology to advance the industry’s future. But the authorities will still take a cautious stance, by expanding the pilot project step by step,” said David Zhang, an auto industry researcher at North China University.

In August 2016, NuTonomy of the US was the first company in the world to make robotaxi available to the public, with rides from a fleet of six Renault Zoes and Mitsubishi i-MiEVs. A year later, Cruise Automation, the startup acquired by General Motors, launched a beta version of its robotaxi service for employees in San Francisco, using a fleet of 46 electric vehicles (EVs) of Chevrolet Bolts. In China, several automakers including Tesla and smart EV startup Xpeng Motors are offering customers driver assistant systems, early technology to support full self-driving capabilities. whole.

Baidu launched Apollo, the world’s largest open source self-driving car platform, four years ago. At the time, the company invited dozens of automakers, component suppliers and technology firms to develop next-generation vehicles. Unlike other strong advocates of self-driving cars, Baidu has pivoted its approach from vehicle-only technologies to intelligent infrastructure. The company aims to expand Apollo Go’s operations to 65 cities across China by 2025, and 100 cities by 2030.

According to analysts’ predictions, Shanghai could be the next city in China to allow robotaxi service providers to tap into passenger demand for driverless cars.

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