Baidu recently launched the Apollo Go Robotaxi service in Beijing, becoming the first company to allow people in China’s capital to use robotaxis.
The service encompasses the largest total area and longest road network of about 700 kilometers for a manned autonomous driving test area in China, with nearly 100 pick-up and drop-off stations covering residential and business areas in Yizhuang, Haidian, and Shunyi districts.
The launch event was held at Apollo Park, the world’s largest autonomous driving and vehicle-to-everything (V2X) test base and one of the Apollo Go stations, located in the Beijing Economic-Technological Development Area.
As the first company to provide robotaxi service in Beijing, Apollo Go will launch 40 vehicles. Beijing users can experience the Apollo Go Robotaxi service after registering on Baidu Maps or the Apollo website.
In addition to Beijing, Apollo Go has opened services to the public in cities including Changsha and Cangzhou, making Baidu the only company with robotaxi pilot operations in multiple cities across China.
“Baidu Apollo will continue pushing for the commercial application of autonomous driving. With our technology and platform advantages, we will contribute more to the development of autonomous driving and smart transportation in Beijing and support the city to become a world-leading AI innovation hub,” said Zhenyu Li, Corporate Vice President of Baidu and General Manager of Intelligent Driving Group (IDG).
Beijing, the technology and innovation center of China, is a strategic location for AI and autonomous driving development. As the first city in China to regulate and open autonomous driving road test zones, Beijing has comprehensive infrastructure and policies to foster high-speed development of the industry.
In 2019, Beijing ranked first in China for numbers of test licenses and vehicle categories, as well as diversity of test scenarios. In addition, Beijing has issued the most stringent safety requirements for manned autonomous driving tests in China to ensure the safety and reliability of the industry.
Beijing has also been an important city for Baidu’s development of cutting-edge autonomous driving technology, with Baidu beginning its innovation in the field in Beijing in 2013. In December 2019, Baidu Apollo claimed 40 of the first batch of manned autonomous driving test licenses issued by the city.
After eight months of small-scale manned testing, the Baidu Apollo robotaxi fleet has completed road tests totaling 519,000 kilometers in Beijing and obtained permission to enter the next stage: opening up to the general public.
According to the 2018 and 2019 editions of the Beijing Autonomous Vehicles Road Test Report, Baidu topped industry peers with the largest fleet of test vehicles, highest total mileage, and most diverse test scenarios.
The launch of Apollo Go Robotaxi service in Beijing marks a new stage of autonomous driving development for both Baidu and Beijing. Manned road tests are key for progressing from the research and development stage to the large-scale application of autonomous driving.
In the future, Baidu will strive to bring the technology to new heights and a wider range of users.