Baidu drives its new robotaxi service in Chongqing and Wuhan
Chinese internet giant Baidu has launched a new commercial robotaxi service in Chongqing and Wuhan.
Cited by Reuters, Baidu’s autonomous ride-hailing unit Apollo Go launched the service shortly after it took to the roads of Beijing. However, due to laws in Beijing, vehicles need to be humanly operated whereas its fleet in Chongqing and Wuhan is driverless.
The service will run from 9am until 5pm in Wuhan, spanning a 13 square kilometer area in the city’s Economic and Technological Development zone, while Chongqing’s service will operate between 9:30am and 4:30pm, covering over double the area of Wuhan’s region, 30 square kilometers in Yongchuan District.
“This is a tremendous qualitative change,” said Wei Dong, vice president and chief safety operation officer of Baidu’s Intelligent Driving Group, in a statement. “We believe these permits are a key milestone on the path to the inflection point when the industry can finally roll out fully autonomous driving services at scale.”
Autonomous vehicles are very much becoming the norm. Earlier this year, the UK said it intends to make amends to The Highway Code to accommodate the driverless cars, and tech friends Cisco and Verizon put their heads together in the US to see what can be done to make them safer.
Baidu has already provisioned for safety, saying it will operate the service in zones that aren’t densely populated, with new and wider roads. Additionally, the zone in Wuhan uses V2X technology to collect real time information about the driverless vehicles surroundings and share those perceptions with other vehicles and infrastructure.
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