A leading Chinese internet company launched a fleet of driverless robotic taxis on Sunday.
Ten Apollo Go robotic taxis have started picking up passengers in West Beijing.
Developed by Baidu, they are the first paid autonomous taxis in China that do not have a safety driver behind the wheel.
The vehicles are programmed with eight destinations in Shougang Park, home of the upcoming 2022 Winter Olympics.
However, a remote operator is available who can take control of the vehicle in an emergency.
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Baidu’s fleet of 10 autonomous Apollo Go robotic axes begins picking up passengers at Beijing’s Shougang Park on Sunday Labor Day holiday weekend
Baidu, China’s answer to Google, unveiled the fully driverless robot axis over a holiday weekend – Monday is International Workers Day or Labor Day.
The taxis took passengers to offices, cafes, hotels and a parking lot around Shougang Park, a former industrial area in west Beijing that is undergoing gentrification.
The Beijing 2022 Winter Olympics will be held at Shougang Park and Baidu expects Apollo Go robotaxis to be used to get athletes and staff to and from Olympic venues.
“The introduction of unmanned services is an essential phase in the commercialization of autonomous driving,” said Yunpeng Wang, Baidu’s general manager for autonomous driving technology.
This is the first commercial robotic taxi in China with no human driver behind the wheel. In an emergency, a safety engineer sits in the passenger seat for the time being
To stop a vehicle, users make a request via the Apollo Go app – the taxi announces its arrival with a polite horn.
Users are required to scan a QR code and health information before getting into the car to confirm their identity and prevent the spread of disease.
Apollo’s AI will not begin the journey until the security protocols have been confirmed. This also means that the doors are closed and all seat belts are fastened.
Unlike previous demonstrations, there was no human driver behind the wheel – only a safety engineer was in the passenger seat.
The taxis took passengers to offices, cafes, hotels and a parking lot around Shougang Park, a gentrified former industrial area in West Beijing that will host the 2022 Winter Olympics
Users call a taxi by selecting it in the Apollo Go app. The doors are unlocked by scanning a QR code and health information
The vehicle’s 5G remote driving service also allows a remote operator to take control of the vehicle in an emergency.
In October 2020, Waymo, a subsidiary of Google’s parent company Alphabet Inc, launched a driverless taxi service in the suburbs of Phoenix, Arizona.
Baidu’s 10 robotic axes are now located in a 1.2 square mile section of Shougang Park in Beijing, offering passengers ages 18 to 60 a ride to one of eight preprogrammed destinations.
Wang predicted that Apollo Gos would be adopted by other “prime Chinese cities” and then international locations, providing more convenient and environmentally friendly transit options around the world.
“The commercialization of autonomous driving can effectively reduce congestion and help achieve the highest carbon emissions and achieve carbon neutrality in China,” he added.
A driver who works in the artificial intelligence industry praised the smooth experience she had in Apollo Go.
“There’s a strong sense of technology because no one is in the driver’s seat,” Kelly Wang told the Associated Press. “I would recommend people to experience this.”
The cabins were pre-programmed with eight destinations and each trip costs approximately $ 4.60
Since the first investment in driverless vehicles in 2013, Baidu has developed a fleet of 500 vehicles for autonomous test driving
Not everyone believed that driverless cars were a great idea.
“We have all had experiences like other cars jumping into the queue or suddenly changing lanes,” said visitor Amy Li to the AP. “Humans have emotions, while robots, at least for now, don’t.”
Autonomous vehicles “may not be able to handle such changes,” she said.
Since the first investment in driverless vehicles in 2013, Baidu has developed a fleet of 500 vehicles for autonomous test driving.
Apollo’s AI will not begin the journey until the security protocols have been confirmed. This also means that the doors are closed and all seat belts are fastened
Wang insisted the company “ran countless scalable driverless tests over a long period of time in many cities” prior to launch on Sunday.
In October 2020, testing of the Apollo Go began in Beijing districts such as Yizhuang, Haidian and Shunyi, with a total of more than ten million kilometers of road tests.
Two years ago, Baudi announced a partnership with BlackBerry to use the smartphone manufacturer’s QNX software to develop an operating system for computer chips that operate self-driving vehicles.
In January it was announced that Baidu’s high-resolution maps will be integrated into BlackBerry’s QNX operating system in new models of the GAC New Energy Aion.