Chinese internet search giant Baidu Inc launched Apollo Go Robotaxi, its self-driving taxi service, to the public in Beijing on Thursday, becoming the first company to carry passengers in autonomous vehicles in the capital.
The company will operate a fleet of 40 vehicles in a manned autonomous driving test area covering 700 kilometers of road, with routes including residential and business areas in Yizhuang, Haidian and Shunyi districts.
People in Beijing can experience the Apollo Go Robotaxi service after registering on Baidu Maps or the Apollo website. The move came after the Beijing-based tech giant opened the Apollo Go Robotaxi service in Cangzhou, Hebei province in August, extending robotaxi coverage to the downtown area of a city for the first time in China.
In April, Baidu opened its self-driving taxi service in Changsha, Hunan province. Robotaxi provides free rides to passengers across an area of 130 square kilometers.
Li Zhenyu, corporate vice-president of Baidu and general manager of the company’s intelligent driving group, said Baidu Apollo will continue to push forward the commercial application of autonomous driving.
“With our technology and platform advantages, we will contribute more to the development of autonomous driving and smart transportation in Beijing and support the city to become a world-leading AI innovation hub,” Li added.
Baidu secured 40 licenses to test self-driving vehicles carrying passengers on designated roads in Beijing on Dec. 30, 2019. After eight months of small-scale manned testing, the Baidu Apollo robotaxi fleet has completed road tests totaling 519,000 kilometers in Beijing and obtained permission to open up to the general public.