Beijing Approves Driverless Taxi Permits for Baidu and Pony.ai

Beijing Approves Driverless Taxi Permits for Baidu and Pony.ai

Beijing is leading the way for self-driving robotaxis. Both auto startup Pony.ai and Chinese internet behemoth Baidu revealed today that they had received permission from China's capital city to provide self-driving car services to the general public. According to CNBC, both operations will begin modest, with Baidu's fleet of ten cars and Pony.ai's fleet of four automobiles. Both firms want to extend their activities in the city in the future.

To ensure that everything runs properly, the Beijing government has mandated that a staff member accompany each autonomous car. However, the employee is not obliged to be in charge. Both companies have previously tested driverless taxis in Beijing and other large Chinese cities, but they were obliged to have safety drivers behind the wheel.

The licenses represent a significant step forward for Beijing's driverless taxi sector, which has aimed to have at least Level 2 self-driving technology installed in 70% of new cars sold by 2030.

A bonus for Beijing residents is that autonomous vehicle rides will be free, at least for now. The firms are still waiting for official authorization to charge for the service. Prospective riders can hail a ride until then using either Pony.ai's PonyPilot+ app or Baidu's Apollo Go app. However, there is one condition. Rides are now limited to a 23.1 square mile region in Yizhuang, a Beijing neighborhood. There is also no door-to-door service. Riders will instead be required to select from various public pick-up and drop-off places, such as metro stations, parks, and stadiums.

Pony.ai encountered several difficulties when testing its self-driving technology in the United States. Last year, California banned the Chinese company's testing permission following a reported collision caused by a bug in Pony.ai's AV software. There were no injuries in the incident, and no other cars were involved. Pony.ai has cooperated with the California Department of Motor Vehicles' recall of all vehicles involved in the collision.

Source: Engadget.

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Jessica Vieira
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Jessica Vieira
Jessica Vieira is ProductReviews's senior media reporter, covering the intersection of entertainment and technology.

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