Over the weekend, the self-driving taxi service of the Chinese search giant Baidu began offering its customers driverless commercial services. A service called Apollo Go has been tested since October last year. During the trial period, its services were free to use.
Currently, the service is limited to roads in the Shugang Park area in Beijing. It is one of the venues for the 2022 Winter Olympics. Apollo Go customers can reach various sports facilities, as well as business districts, shops, cafes and hotels.
You can order a trip to robotaxi through the app. Upon arrival of the vehicle, a standard passenger identification procedure is carried out, as well as a security check – the car starts moving only after the doors are closed and the seat belts are fastened. For safety and surveillance purposes, a company employee is still present in the front passenger seat, but the Apollo Go will ultimately be fully autonomous. In the future, it is planned to connect cars to the central hub via 5G, if there is a need for remote vehicle control.
The main idea is to expand the driverless taxi service throughout Beijing and further to other cities in China. Baidu’s drones have already covered nearly 10 million kilometers during testing. They run in many areas of the capital. Baidu’s competitor Waymo has had a similar service called Waymo One since December last year. It offers driverless taxi services in parts of Phoenix, Arizona.