The first fully unmanned taxis will appear in China

Chinese Internet giant Baidu has received permission to launch fully autonomous commercial robot taxis in the cities of Chongqing and Wuhan. It will be possible to order a car with an autopilot without a driver behind the wheel through the special Apollo Go service in the near future.

The drones of the service have been driving on the roads of Beijing for several months, but in a free mode. They promote public acceptance of the new technology, and an agreement with the city government requires a driver to take over in the event of a problem.

In Wuhan, the service will operate from 9 am to 5 pm and will operate in a limited area of 13 km² in the “development zone” – a special area that attracts foreign investment. In Chongqing, the service will operate from 9:30 am to 4:30 pm on a 30 km² area in Yongchuan District. At launch, there will be five Apollo 5th generation robot taxis in each city.

The areas in which Baidu will operate are not densely populated, and they have enough new wide roads that are easiest for a drone to drive on. In Chongqing, the Yongchuan area was a pilot area for testing the Apollo autopilot: 30 robot taxis drove a million kilometers to test the safety of the technology.

Baidu intends to expand Apollo Go: by the end of the year, another 300 Apollo 5 robot taxis will replenish the fleet. More to come: by 2025, they want to roll out the service to 65 cities, and by 2030 – to 100. In how many of them will the option of traveling without a driver be available, depends on the local government.

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