Chinese city Beijing loosens robotaxi rules for Baidu Apollo Go,

Chinese tech companies Baidu’s Apollo Go and announced on Thursday that they have received permission from the Beijing city government to remove safety drivers for part of their business operations. Their robotaxi business is in a suburban area of ​​the city.

Vcg | Visual China Corporation | beautiful pictures

BEIJING – China’s capital has moved one step closer to allowing ordinary people to use robots without a human inside.

In their first domestic operation, two Chinese companies – BaiduApollo Go and – announced on Thursday that they have received permission from the Beijing city government to remove safety drivers for part of their robotaxi business in one area. suburbs of the city.

The cars will still need an employee inside, not necessarily in the driver’s seat.

It’s a move towards allowing companies to run robotaxi businesses without having to pay staff to operate the vehicle – eliminating the cost of a taxi driver altogether. It remains unclear when the Chinese government will allow the robot to charge for trips without any staff on board.

In the US, Alphabet’s Waymo and GM’s subsidiary Cruise are already able to run public robots without an employee on board. Robot and driver testing laws vary by city and state.

Waymo may charge customers for robotic operations operating in Arizona, while Cruise awaits final license approval to charge riders in San Francisco.

Tu Le, founder of Beijing-based consulting firm Sino Auto Insights, points out that GM’s Cruise can only operate a driverless robot service in San Francisco at night, while the easing eases. The latest restrictions in Beijing allow the quasi-unmanned robot to operate during the day.

That will allow Chinese operators to collect more data during times of higher traffic.

Under the new Beijing city license, Baidu says it can operate 10 robotaxis without a driver safely, and plans to add 30 more such vehicles at an unspecified date later. can initially operate four robotaxis without a driver safely under the new rules, and more are expected to be added in the future, a spokesperson said.

The Beijing government in the suburban Yizhuang district confirmed Baidu and had received approval for the new robotaxi during a press conference on Thursday. The government added the operating area tripled, or about 23 square miles.

Busy six months for China’s robotaxi rule changes

The rules for testing and operating robots also vary by region in China.

Beijing’s latest move comes less than six months since the city allowed Baidu and robot toll collection in the suburban district of Yizhuang. The approval for the fare calculation is the first done by a major city in China.

Baidu said its Apollo Go robotaxi business then began charging fares in the southwestern Chinese city of Chongqing and a smaller, central Chinese city, Yangquan, in February. The cars still require a safe driver.

On Sunday, Nansha district of southern Guangzhou city named’s technology-powered robot like a traditional taxi – the first such license in China. The license allows to charge tickets within the county. All vehicles currently have a safe driver.

– by CNBC Michael Wayland contributed to this report.

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