Baidu Apollo driverless taxis

Baidu to launch paid driverless ride-hailing service in Beijing

Image credit: Baidu

Chinese web firm Baidu has announced the launch of its driverless robotaxi service in Beijing from 2 May, making it the among the first companies in the country to offer autonomous taxi services to paying users.

According to Baidu, it will launch its driverless Apollo Robotaxi in the Chinese capital’s Shougang Park and will operate without a safety driver behind the steering wheel. The company added that users can hail and pay for a robo-taxi ride through the Apollo Go App.

The company, known as ‘China’s Google’, has been testing autonomous driving on public roads since October 2020 in Beijing. Baidu has over the years developed smart car technologies, including high-definition maps, with the autonomous driving unit Apollo established in 2017.

“Introducing unmanned services is an indispensable stage for the commercialisation of autonomous driving,” said Wang Yunpeng, general manager of autonomous driving technology at Baidu. He added the Apollo project will launch driverless robo-taxis in more Chinese cities in the future.

According to a report by Reuters, Jidu Auto, an electric vehicle venture between Baidu and Chinese automaker Geely, plans to spend 50 billion yuan (£5.5bn) to make smart cars over the next five years.

Alibaba-backed AutoX said earlier this year it began offering paid driverless rides to public users in Shenzhen, while Nissan-backed Chinese autonomous driving start-up WeRide is also testing driverless vehicles in the country.

Back in 2018, the company launched the country’s first self-driving bus service, which uses Baidu’s autonomous driving software.

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