Consider all the possible benefits of robotaxis: increased mobility, lower costs, fewer vehicles on the roads, and more free time on daily commutes. Fleets of self-driving cabs are expected to have disruptive effects on transportation in cities around the world.

Despite all this promise, however, international trailblazers are currently scaling back their plans to deploy automated mobility services worldwide. GM’s Cruise is downsizing its plans to deploy robotaxis. Alphabet’s Waymo launched self-driving taxi services late last year, but vehicles are still only available to about 400 test families in the suburbs of Phoenix, Arizona. These cars are also required to have safety drivers behind the wheel in case a human is required to take over in a dangerous situation.

Meanwhile, Chinese self-driving companies are pushing to lead the global race to deploy self-driving taxis. AutoX is expanding its presence, with plans to offer self-driving rides in Europe by the end of 2020. Baidu has set an ambitious goal to roll out 100 self-driving taxis in Changsha by year-end. Pony.ai and WeRide have been testing driverless ride-hailing in Guangzhou for months.

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Jill Shen

Jill Shen is Shanghai-based technology reporter. She covers Chinese mobility, autonomous vehicles, and electric cars. Connect with her via e-mail: jill.shen@technode.com or Twitter: @yushan_shen

Chris Udemans

Christopher Udemans is a Shanghai-based data and graphics reporter. He covers Chinese artificial intelligence, mobility, and cybersecurity. You can contact him at chrisudemans [at] technode [dot] com.