Chinese Internet company Baidu.com Inc. announced Monday that it has secured China’s first-ever permits for commercial fully driverless ride-hailing services.
With the new permits, Baidu’s autonomous ride-hailing service, Apollo Go, is now authorized to offer fully driverless robotaxi services in Chongqing and Wuhan, and collect fares.
The AI company has become the first and only company to offer fully driverless robotaxi services to the public in China on open roads.
The permits were granted to Baidu by government agencies in Wuhan and Chongqing’s Yongchuan District, two of China’s largest megacities.
Baidu said it will begin to provide fully driverless robotaxi services in the designated areas in Wuhan from 9 am to 5 pm, and Chongqing from 9:30 am to 4:30 pm, with five Apollo 5th gen robotaxis operating in each city.
According to the company, China is the first country in the world that allows fared fully driverless robotaxi operation in two megacities.
For the permits to operate with no human driver or operator in the vehicle, Baidu’s robotaxis have undergone multiple steps of testing and licensing.
Wei Dong, Vice President and Chief Safety Operation Officer of Baidu’s Intelligent Driving Group, said, “Fully driverless cars providing rides on open roads to paying customers means we have finally come to the moment that the industry has been longing for. 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.”
Baidu said its Apollo Go has now surfaced to become the world’s largest robotaxi service provider, recently reaching the milestone of more than one million orders.
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