Driverless cars

Robotaxis are coming. Or at least, robotaxis are coming to Beijing, China.

Chinese tech giant Baidu, which primarily makes its money via its search engine, just announced that it has won a permit to deploy fully driverless taxis in the Chinese capital city.

Baidu has been working on self-driving car technologies for the past five years in an effort to diversify its business model.

Baidu’s Apollo Go service will now deploy 10 driverless vehicles or “robotaxis” in Beijing’s technology park. That means the driverless ride-hailing service will now operate in three different Chinese cities, with the first two being Wuhan and Chongqing.

Baidu’s Robotaxi Fleet is Rapidly Expanding

Apollo Go’s new permit to operate in Beijing marks a big step forward for Baidu’s robotaxi dreams. Back in December, the company began testing the vehicles in Beijing alongside Toyota-backed self-driverless car start-up

At the time, Baidu said it wanted to expand its robotaxi fleet by another 200 over the course of 2023. The company also said that it delivered more than 1.4 million driverless rides by the time Q3 2022 had ended.

Baidu hopes its robotaxis will eventually bring the cost of a ride down by half.

When Will Robotaxis Make it to the US? also has operations in the US and is currently testing autonomous vehicles in California and Arizona. However, the company continues to employ safety drivers as a precaution.

However, outside of China, regulators appear more cautious of the technology. In the US, Tesla is under criminal investigation over its claims that its cars are fully self-driving. Meanwhile, General Motor’s driverless vehicle sub-division Cruise is being investigated over safety concerns regarding its autonomous driving system.

Allegedly, there have been incidents where vehicles using its technology drove inappropriately.

Other automakers have given up on the idea of robotaxis. Ford and Volkswagen had been working together on a driverless car project called Argo AI, but closed shop after concluding that their prior estimates as to the commercial potential of a robotaxi fleet had been overestimated.

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