Baidu, the Chinese technology company, announced on Thursday that it would begin offering services for paid driverless robotaxi in Beijing on May 2. It is one of the first businesses in the country to do so.
The driverless Apollo Robotaxi, which will debut in Beijing’s Shougang Park, will run with no need for a safety driver, according to the firm, and users will be able to request and pay for a robotaxi ride using the Apollo Go App.
For the 2022 Winter Olympics in Beijing, Shougang Park is part of the selected Olympic venues. During the Olympics, customers will be able to travel between work centers, hotels, sports halls, and coffee shops. The service will also transport athletes and personnel.
Passengers will use the Apollo Go app to find a self-driving taxi in their area and hire a driverless ride via a self-service operation.
Upon the arrival of the vehicle, there are few requirements to do before its doors open. Users must scan a QR code on the vehicle for identity checking, and a health code for COVID-19 contact tracing. As the passenger boards, press the “start the journey” button to begin the ride.
Moreover, the company stressed that before each trip starts, the system would perform “all the passenger safety protocol checks,” such as confirming that doors are closed and seat belts are fastened. Also, the car can be remotely accessed by a human operator through 5G in “exceptional” emergencies.
Since October, Baidu has been conducting trials on automated vehicles on public roads in Beijing. With the establishment of the driverless automobile unit Apollo in 2017, the company has created smart car technology, including high-definition maps.
Wang Yunpeng, Baidu’s General Manager of Autonomous Driving Technology, said “Introducing unmanned services is an indispensable stage for the commercialization of autonomous driving.”
Apollo will also release self-driving robotaxis in other cities in the country in the next years, according to Wang.
Baidu and Zhejiang Geely Holding Group formed a new venture focused on the manufacture of autonomous vehicles early this year. According to Reuters, Jidu Auto, the joint venture of the two firms, intends to invest 50 billion yuan in smart cars in the next 5 years.
Baidu will concentrate on improving intelligent driving skills for these vehicles. On the other hand, Geely, the producer of automobiles under the Geely, Volvo, and Lotus names, will dedicate its automotive design and manufacturing expertise.