Today, the first driverless taxi service in China has launched in Guangzhou city.
Guangzhou Public Transport Group-operated Baiyun Taxi (广州公交集团白云公司) announced (in Chinese) that it has started piloting the driverless taxi service around the Guangzhou University campus.
Guangzhou-headquartered WeRide.ai (formerly JingChi.ai) is providing the technical support for the L4 autonomous driving taxis. The driverless taxi service uses Trumpchi’s all-electric SUV GE3, which is kitted with 2 LIDAR sensors, three cameras, and a millimeter-wave radar.
Baiyun Taxi, which operates the driverless cab service, has set 2 pm to 4 pm as the designated time slot for road tests. Starting from November 1, road tests are being carried out every day in the central part of the Guangzhou University town. According to local media, three self-driving vehicles are partaking the on-road testing in the designated zone.
“Instead of resisting change, why not embrace it? The autonomous driving technology has significantly lightened the weight for me,” said Ru Zheng, the driver.
The vehicle is capable of switching between driving and self-driving mode, so at normal it can operate as an ordinary taxi. The company said the driverless taxi service charges the same fare as manned taxi service.
According to Baiyun Taxi, it will expand the area and scale of the road tests in the future.
China has been racing to commercialize of driverless services and advance autonomous driving technology, which is a key part of the country’s “Made in China 2025” plan.
Chinese internet giant Baidu announced on Monday that it will be testing a fleet of autonomous taxis in a pilot zone in Changsha and that it plans to deploy a fleet of 100 autonomous vehicles by 2019. Google’s parent company, Alphabet managed to commercialize driverless taxi service earlier this year.
Baidu is not the only Chinese tech company with grand plans to commercialize driverless services. In September, autonomous driving startup Pony.ai announced that it plans to grow its fleet of self-driving taxis to 200 by early next year.