Baidu operates fully unmanned commercial robotaxi in Wuhan and Chongqing – TechCrunch

Chinese internet giant Baidu has obtained a license to provide a completely unmanned, unmanned commercial robotaxi service in Chongqing and Wuhan through the company’s autonomous ride-hailing unit, Apollo. Go.

Baidu’s victories in Wuhan and Chongqing come months after the company obtained a license to provide driverless services ride-hailing service for the public on open roads in Beijing. The difference is that the service in Beijing is not yet a commercial service – Baidu offers free driverless driving in the name of R&D and is accepted by the public – and Beijing’s license is still available. Ask the operator to be in the front passenger seat of the vehicle.

When Baidu launches in Wuhan and Chongqing, it will be the first time an autonomous vehicle company can offer a completely driverless ride-hailing service in China, Baidu claims. Meanwhile in the US, Cruise recently started offering a commercial driverless service in San Franciscoand Waymo has been offering one in Arizona since 2020.

“This is a huge change in substance,” Wei Dong, vice president and chief safety officer of Baidu’s Intelligent Driving Group, said in a statement. “We believe these permits are an important milestone on the road to an inflection point when the industry can finally deploy fully automated driving services at scale.”

In Wuhan, Baidu’s route will operate from 9 a.m. to 5 p.m. and cover a 13-square-kilometer area in the city’s Economic and Technological Development zone, which has been dubbed the ‘Umbrella City’. Chinese bowl’. Chongqing’s line will run from 9:30 a.m. to 4:30 p.m. in a 30 square kilometer area in Yongchuan county. According to Baidu, each city will have a fleet of five 5th-generation Apollo robots.

The areas where Baidu will operate are not densely populated, and they have many new wide roads that make it easier to operate autonomous systems. Both cities provide a favorable regulatory and technological environment for Baidu to start its first unmanned commerce service. In Chongqing, Yongchuan district is a pilot area for autonomous driving, in which 30 driving robots have accumulated 1 million km worth of test drives.

The area in Wuhan where Apollo Go will operate has renovated 321 km of roads for AV testing as of 2021, including 106 km worth of covered by 5G (V2X) vehicle-enabled infrastructure. . AVs can rely on V2X technology to gather real-time information about their surroundings and share those perceptions with other vehicles or infrastructure, essentially giving robotaxis a form of other sensors for reuse, in addition to lidar, onboard radar and camera. The V2X infrastructure also helps Baidu to remotely monitor the vehicle and control the vehicle if necessary.

Last month, Baidu has revealed the designs for its sixth-generation electric robotaxi, the Apollo RT6 EV, is a cross between an SUV and a minivan that comes with a detachable steering wheel. The company says it was able to cut production costs by developing an in-house electric battery architecture, raising the price per vehicle to $37,000 per unit. This will help Baidu hit the spot for small-scale testing and roll out RT6 next year, expanding to large scale by 2024.

In addition to the new service in Wuhan and Chongqing and the drone service in Beijing, Apollo Go is also available in Shanghai, Shenzhen, Guangzhou, Trường Sa, Cangzhou, Yangquan and Wuzhen. Baidu says it plans to expand the ride-hailing service to 65 cities by 2025 and 100 cities by 2030. By the end of this year, Baidu is expected to add 300 more Apollo-driven robots. 5 into its existing fleet.

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