The artificial intelligence giant Baidu has just launched a driverless robotaxi service in Beijing, in the Chinese park of Shougang. As one of the venues for the 2022 Beijing Winter Olympics, the service will begin transporting visitors to the games next year.
Baidu’s Apollo Go Robotaxi service is the first paid autonomous vehicle service where users can board a taxi without a standby driver intervening. Customers will be able to flag down a ride using an app, which allows them to locate a nearby taxi. If they cannot locate the car, users can honk their horns remotely to find their vehicle.
Unlocking the vehicle will require a quick scan of a series of QR codes for identity verification and pandemic prevention. After hopping on board, passengers can simply press the ‘start journey’ button. Shortly thereafter, the car will begin to move after making sure the doors are closed and the seat belts fastened.
“The introduction of unmanned services is an indispensable state for the commercialization of autonomous driving,” said Yunpeng Wang, vice president and general manager of Baidu autonomous driving technology. “Today, we are opening fully driverless robotaxi services to the public in Beijing, which we only achieved after conducting countless scalable driverless tests in many cities for an extended period of time.”
If you’re still not convinced by the technology, Guidehouse – a global consulting giant – recently named Baidu one of the world’s best autonomous driving providers. To date, the AI powerhouse has obtained 2,900 patents for intelligent driving. Even with Baidu investing in autonomous driving for nearly eight years, we’re betting some passengers will still have cold feet before getting into the Apollo.