Chinese tech giant Baidu’s robotaxi service, Apollo Go, has launched in Beijing following successful trials in other cities.
Apollo Go previously launched in the cities of Changsha and Cangzhou back in August. The expansion to Beijing marks the first driverless car services operating in the capital.
Zhenyu Li, Corporate Vice President of Baidu and General Manager of the Intelligent Driving Group (IDG), says:
“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.”
Baidu is often referred to as China’s Google because it operates similar services, including search and maps. Google itself has mostly been blocked in China since 2010.
Apollo Go uses Baidu’s own mapping services. Users in Beijing must register on Baidu Maps or the Apollo website before they can access the robotaxi service.
Baidu’s robotaxi service covers around 700 kilometres across China, making it the largest network in the country. The service features close to 100 pick-up and drop-off stations in the Yizhuang, Haidian, and Shunyi districts—covering both residential and business areas.
Baidu says China’s capital ranked first in 2019 for the number of test licenses issued, as well as the diversity of test scenarios. In December 2019, Baidu Apollo claimed 40 of Beijing’s first batch of manned autonomous driving test licenses.
The tech giant notes that it topped the 2018 and 2019 editions of the Beijing Autonomous Vehicles Road Test Report, beating its rivals with the largest fleet of test vehicles, highest total mileage, and most diverse test scenarios.
Baidu claims Beijing has the most stringent safety requirements in China for autonomous driving. As for its own fleet, Beijing says its driverless vehicles have completed road tests totalling 519,000 kilometres in Beijing alone.
40 vehicles will initially be launched in Beijing for the Apollo Go service.