Chinese internet giant Baidu has been given the green light by the local government of Changsha, the capital of Central China’s Hunan province, to use its self-driving cars to pick up passengers. Baidu was granted 45 testing plates for its vehicles, the company confirmed with KrASIA today.
China is testing autonomous vehicles in a number of locations, but it’s the first time test rides are allowed to carry passengers in the city, according to a detailed regulation issued by the local government on Friday.
The city has designated 135 kilometers of open roads and 100 kilometers of highway as testing areas.
Robin Li, chairman and founder of Baidu, said on an internet summit held in Changsha on Friday that his company’s Apollo Robotaxi will soon start to pick up and transport passengers in the city.
Globally, this is not a first though. As early as May 2018, US-based Aptiv Autonomous Mobility started to offer commercial robotaxi rides to the general public, in partnership with Lyft.
One year later, Aptiv has completed more than 50,000 passenger rides, making its Las Vegas deployment the world’s largest public robotaxi service, said Karl Iagnemma, president of Aptiv. He claimed that 92% of riders said they felt “very safe” or “extremely safe” during their rides.
Iagnemma added that passengers have awarded the company’s autonomous robotaxi service a “star rating” of 4.97 out of five stars, commenting positively about the vehicles’ intelligence, comfort, and the expertise of safety operators, who accompanied passengers during their rides to ensure the utmost level of safety.
Baidu confirmed that its robotaxis will also have safety operators.