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Baidu expands its robotaxi service

By Fan Feifei | | Updated: 2022-12-26 20:26
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A Baidu robotaxi drives on a street in Wuhan. [Photo provided to]

Chinese tech company Baidu Inc announced on Monday that a major expansion of its commercialized fully driverless robotaxi service in Wuhan, capital of Hubei province, with an aim to build the world's largest fully driverless ride-hailing service area in 2023. 

Baidu is tripling the size of its operation area, increasing the number of robotaxis in service and expanding operating time to include key evening hours in Wuhan. It also plans to put an additional 200 fully driverless robotaxis into operation across the country next year. 

With this most recent expansion, the company's autonomous ride-hailing service platform Apollo Go now covers an area of 130 square kilometers in Wuhan, serving a population of 1 million.

The operating hours of the fully driverless robotaxi service in Junshan New Town of Wuhan have been extended from 7 pm to 11 pm in order to better meet the public's needs for evening travel. Currently, Baidu has become the first and the only vendor in China to provide a commercialized fully driverless robotaxi service during evening hours. 

In August, Baidu secured the country's first permits to charge fares for fully driverless ride-hailing services — completely without human drivers or safety operators in the car — in designated areas in Wuhan and Chongqing.

As one of the leading centers of automotive industry innovation in Central China, Wuhan has been actively spearheading the way in enacting policies to support autonomous driving. At present, the city has over 400 kilometers of roads fully enabled by intelligent networks, ranking at the forefront in China.  

So far, Baidu has accumulated more than 40 million kilometers of L4 autonomous driving test mileage. L4 autonomy means the vehicle can drive by itself under most circumstances, without a human backup driver. 

In addition to Wuhan, Apollo Go currently provides commercialized autonomous ride-hailing services in cities including Beijing, Shenzhen, and Chongqing. By the end of the third quarter of 2022, the cumulative order volume of Apollo Go exceeded 1.4 million, making Baidu the world's largest robotaxi service provider.

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