Robotaxi operator WeRide has started tests for its autonomous vehicles on Guangzhou’s public roads according to a press release issued by the company on Friday. The cars do not have backup safety operators inside.
WeRide is the first company in China, and the second in the world, to conduct road tests for fully driverless vehicles. Alphabet’s subsidiary Waymo began offering driverless rides in October 2019 to paying customers and employees in Phoenix and Silicon Valley.
WeRide has ten vehicles that are being tested without a human presence within the cars, although the vehicles can be controlled by human operators remotely for situations like temporary road closures, a spokeswoman said to KrASIA on Friday.
The move takes WeRide one step closer to providing fully driverless robotaxi services to the general public by 2021 within a designated area in Guangzhou.
WeRide, founded in 2017, has rolled out robotaxi services in November 2019 in Guangzhou, making it the first company in China to offer this service to the general public. Initially, WeRide robotaxis could be hailed via an app, WeRide Go, by people who reside in a designated area of 144.7 sq km. Last month, the company’s services were integrated with Gaode, an app operated by Alibaba’s mapping service provider AutoNavi.
Following WeRide, Baidu, the company behind China’s largest search engine, launched its own robotaxi service in Changsha, the capital of Hunan province in central China, in April.