Commercial robot taxi rides are now taking off around the world. After Cruise in San Francisco and Waymo in Phoenix, Baidu is now joining in. The Chinese Internet giant has now received another license to operate such a service in the WHDZ economic and technology zone in Wuhan. Wuhan is already the fourth city to grant Baidu permission to operate a commercial service, after Beijing, Chongqing and Yangquan.
The robotaxi fleet will transport passengers along 166 kilometers of roads in a 30-square-kilometer area in the WHDZ. There are 63 pick-up and drop-off locations in the area, which include university campuses, sports centers and shopping malls. Passengers in the area can request a ride on the robotaxi daily from 8:00 a.m. to 5:00 p.m. through the Apollo Go and Wechat apps.
To date, Baidu’s robotaxis have traveled more than 27 million miles on public roads and made close to 197,000 trips in the first quarter of 2022 alone.
The big differences with the U.S. robotaxi fleets are, on the one hand, the dependence on a special traffic infrastructure – for example, the test areas in China are equipped with specific sensors for the robotaxis – and there are still safety drivers in the vehicles so far.
This article was also published in German.