Chinese search firm Baidu is launching a fully driverless, paid ride-hailing service in the outskirts of Beijing beginning on May 2, the company confirmed on Thursday.
Details: Baidu will begin charging passengers for rides with its fleet of 10 driverless vehicles in western Beijing’s Shougang Industrial Park beginning on Sunday.
- All rides will be offered without a human driver behind the wheel, though a driver will sit in the passenger seat to ensure safety, a spokeswoman told TechNode on Thursday.
- The launch follows Baidu’s fully driverless tests within geo-fenced areas in several domestic cities including Beijing and the northern city of Cangzhou during the second half of 2020.
- Shougang Park is more than 20 kilometers (12.4 miles) away from downtown Beijing, and is formerly the site of a plant belonging to state-owned steel company Shougang Group. The Beijing 2022 Olympic Games Organizing Committee is located at the industrial park.
- A Shougang Park representative told Beijing Daily (in Chinese) last week that a fleet of more than 100 self-driving vehicles will be in service during the 2022 Winter Olympics in February. The fleet will include robotaxis, robobuses, and delivery robots offered by Baidu, JD.com, and other companies.
Context: Baidu in March became the first Chinese company granted permission to offer robotaxi rides to paying customers in Cangzhou, a city near Beijing in northern Hebei province.