Robotaxis enters Chinese metropolises

China
Robotaxis enters Chinese metropolises

Self-driving taxis from Baidu now run in two major Chinese cities

© IMAGO / Kyodo news

Since last week, autonomous taxis are no longer a vision in the People’s Republic of Poland, but a reality on the road. In Wuhan and Chongqing, autonomous vehicles are officially authorized to carry passengers from point A to point B in designated urban areas

Since last week, autonomous taxis are no longer a vision in the People’s Republic of Poland, but a reality on the road. In Wuhan and Chongqing, autonomous vehicles are officially allowed to carry passengers from point A to point B in designated urban areas.

This article is available to Capital.de in partnership with China.Table Professional Briefing – China.Table first published it on August 17, 2022.

In Shenzhen’s Nanshan district, autonomous taxis are already part of the street scene. Many people stop looking when one of the white cars with a knob on the roof passes by. There are cameras and sensors in the structure so that vehicles can move around the city without human control.

The people of Shenzhen have become accustomed to the revolutionary mobility concepts of the 21st century in the form of autonomous robotic taxis. For over a year and a half, the Internet company Baidu has been testing its technology there on selected streets in city traffic – always with protection in the passenger seat.

But while Cruise’s robotic taxis have been operating commercially in the US metropolis of San Francisco since June, alone and for a fee, Shenzhen has yet to issue the necessary license to abandon emergency personnel. And so Wuhan and Chongqing are now pioneering the first Chinese cities to enable an autonomous Baidu taxi fleet that fully trusts and charges money for the technology.

Negotiations with Beijing and Guangzhou are ongoing

Baidu said five vehicles will run in selected neighborhoods daily from 9:00 am to 5:00 pm in Wuhan and from 9:30 am to 4:30 pm in Chongqing. These areas cover 13 square kilometers in the Wuhan Economic and Technological Development Zone and 30 square kilometers in the Yongchuan District of Chongqing. However, it is only a matter of time before other Chinese cities also give the green light. Negotiations are already underway with Beijing and Guangzhou.

Approval is an important milestone for Baidu. The search engine giant, which suffers from falling ad sales, has focused its future activities on artificial intelligence and autonomous driving. Baidu wants to significantly cut prices for conventional taxis. “We are headed for a future where robotic cabs will cost half the price of a regular cab,” said Baidu founder Robin Li at the launch of the upcoming RT6 robo cab that will run on Chinese roads. 2023 will be.

By the end of the year, Baidu plans to double its current autonomous fleet to 600 vehicles. The company plans to expand its Apollo Go taxi service to 65 Chinese cities by 2025. Up to 100 cities by 2030. By then, tens of thousands of autonomous taxis will be in use. The Apollo RT6 is expected to go into mass production at a cost of 250,000 yuan (about 36,000 euros) per vehicle. According to Baidu, this is only half the cost of the previous model. For the first time, the steering wheel should retract.

Foreigners have so far been excluded from using it

For Baidu and other robo-taxi suppliers, it is important to keep vehicle production costs as low as possible in order to refinance their production for use on Chinese roads. Especially that taxi rides in the Polish People’s Republic are much cheaper than, for example, in Germany.

Baidu not only builds its own fleet of autonomous taxis. It also makes its Apollo system available to dozens of carmakers in China so they can build their own autonomous cars. Baidu is considered a leader in China in the development of technology that enables autonomous driving. According to its own statements, the group has a wealth of data from over 20 million kilometers of monitored autonomous driving. Like Tesla, Baidu uses data to train its algorithms.

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For users, little has changed compared to transport providers like Didi Chuxing. You can download the app with the payment service, enter the pickup point and destination, and a few minutes later Robotaxi will roll over. However, foreigners cannot drive yet as the app only allows registration with a Chinese ID card.

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