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Commercialized robotaxis get green light in Beijing

chinadaily.com.cn | Updated: 2021-11-25 13:29

A driverless vehicle developed by Baidu Inc runs through Shougang Park in Shijingshan district, Beijing. [Photo provided to China Daily]

Robotaxis are becoming a reality in Beijing as the capital has become the first city in China to allow them to offer paid services on public roads.

Local authorities issued permits on Thursday to robotaxi service operators, whose vehicles can offer such services in a 60-square-kilometer zone, with 350 km of open roads, in its southern suburb of Yizhuang.

Baidu is among the first to receive the permits, now having 67 robotaxis in the zone. They can pick up and drop off passengers at 600 points in both commercial and residential areas.

These autonomous vehicles can be hailed via the smartphone app Apollo Go and the service is available every day of the week from 7 am to 10 pm, said the company.

Baidu said the move will accelerate progress towards large-scale commercial operation and set a foundation for the wider and more rapid development of commercialized autonomous driving within China.

Baidu's autonomous driving capabilities have made rapid progress in recent months.

In the third quarter this year, Baidu provided 115,000 robotaxi rides, making Baidu the world leader in the number of autonomous car service rides provided.

Baidu has set an ambitious goal to expand its Apollo Go operations into 65 cities across China by 2025 and 100 cities by 2030.

The size of China's autonomous car service market will exceed 1.3 trillion yuan ($203.5 billion) by 2030, with the top-ranked service providers seizing 40 percent of the market share, according to consulting firm IHS Markit.

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