Baidu has opened a fully driverless robotaxi services to the public in Beijing, which will be China’s first paid autonomous vehicle service. Users can hail a robotaxi without a safety driver behind the steering wheel, marking a landmark step on the road to commercialisation of autonomous driving. The fully driverless Apollo Go Robotaxi service was launched in Beijing’s Shougang Park – one of the venues for the 2022 Beijing Winter Olympics – and will soon be transporting visitors at the games.
With the ride-hailing service being launched during the Labour Day holiday period, Baidu will be the first Chinese company offering a fully driverless robotaxi service under commercial operation. By using the Apollo Go App, users can locate a robotaxi in the vicinity and hail a driverless ride by themselves through a system of unmanned self-service processes.
Features including virtual reality navigation and remote car honking can help users to identify the location of the car. To unlock the autonomous vehicles, users are required to scan a QR code and health code on the car for identity verification and pandemic prevention purposes.
Upon boarding the vehicle and clicking on the “Start the Journey” button, the system will ensure that seat belts are fastened and the doors are shut, the trip only beginning after all the passenger safety protocol checks are completed. With no safety driver at the helm, the 5G Remote Driving Service is present at all times to allow human operators to remotely access the vehicles in the case of exceptional emergencies.
At Beijing Shougang Park, the robotaxis will be able to transport users to sports halls, work areas, coffee shops and hotels. During the upcoming Winter Olympics, the Apollo robotaxis will be available to provide shuttle services for athletes and staff.
“Introducing unmanned services is an indispensable stage for the commercialisation of autonomous driving, which we achieved only after conducting countless scalable driverless tests in many cities over a long period of time,” said Yunpeng Wang, vice president and general manager of autonomous driving technology at Baidu.
“In the future, Baidu Apollo will launch driverless robotaxis in more cities, enabling the public to access greener, low-carbon, and convenient travel services, while continuing to improve the unmanned service process and user experience,” he added. “The commercialisation of autonomous driving can alleviate congestion effectively and help to reach the peak carbon dioxide emissions and achieve carbon neutrality in China.”
This article courtesy of Russell Thrall III, publisher CollisionWeek. Check out their website at: www.collisionweek.com