Chinese technology firm Baidu Inc (百度) on Sunday unveiled its paid driverless taxi service, making it the first company to commercialize autonomous driving operations in China.
Unlike previous Baidu autonomous driving demonstrations in Beijing, this was the first time there was no safety driver sitting behind the wheel. Instead, a safety member was seated in the front passenger seat to deal with any emergencies.
Up to 10 Apollo “robotaxis” are now operating simultaneously in an area of about 3km2, picking up and dropping off passengers at eight stops in Shougang Park in western Beijing.
Each ride costs 30 yuan (US$4.63) and is available to passengers aged 18 to 60.
Passengers can order a robotaxi on the Apollo Go app. When the taxi arrives, passengers must have their identities verified before getting in.
The taxi starts to move after it detects the passengers have fastened their seat belts.
Baidu, known for its search engines, has been testing autonomous driving on the open road since last year.
Its Apollo Go robotaxi service has carried more than 210,000 passengers in three cities in China and aims to expand to 30 cities in the next three years, the company said in a statement.
“In the future, Baidu Apollo will launch driverless robotaxis in more cities, enabling the public to access greener, low-carbon and convenient travel services, while continuing to improve the unmanned service process and user experience,” the statement said.
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