Baidu, the company behind China’s largest search engine, has launched its first operational, available-to-the-public robotaxi service. Residents of Changsha, Hunan can now hail autonomous taxis using the Baidu Map app or a mini program called Dutaxi within Baidu’s main search app, according to a press release on Monday.
While autonomous, the vehicles operate with safety operators in the driver seat, who can take control of the vehicle if necessary. They can ferry passengers within a designated 130 square kilometer area in the city.
This marks another step for Baidu in moving its robotaxi service from trials to real-world operations. When the company first launched robotaxis last September, they were available to use by online application only, and those interested in being part of the trial had to register with private information including identity card numbers.
Another company, autonomous driving startup WeRide, has already allowed residents in a 144 square kilometer area in Guangzhou to hail robotaxis via its app WeRide Go since late last year.
This article is part of KrASIA’s “China Brief” section, where KrASIA’s reporters will provide quick daily updates about the tech ecosystem in China.