BEIJING — Chinese tech giant Baidu rolled out its paid driverless taxi service on Sunday, making it the first. Unlike previous Baidu independent driving demonstrations in Beijing, this was the first no safety driver was sitting behind the wheel. Instead, a safety member was seated in the front passenger seat to deal with emergencies. Up to 10 Apollo “robotaxis” operate simultaneously in about 3 square kilometers (1.2 square miles), picking up and dropping off passengers at eight stops in Shougang Park in western Beijing. Each ride costs 30 yuan ($4.60) and is open to passengers ages 18 to 60.
The park is a former site of iron and steel plants redeveloped into a sightseeing destination and a future venue for the 2022. Although aren’t heavy, an influx of tourists was seen in the park on the second day of China’s international labor day holiday.
The robotaxis were repeatedly forced to brake when encountering jaywalkers or curious tourists who came close to the vehicles for photos. Kelly Wang and her husband, who both work in the artificial intelligence industry, said they had a smooth riding experience. “I would recommend people experience this. There is a strong sense of technology because nobody is in the driver’s seat,” Wang said. Her husband was even considering buying such a car for their household.
Passengers can order a robotaxi on an app called Apollo Go. When the taxi arrives, passengers must have their identities verified before getting in. The cab will start to move after it detects the passengers have fastened their seat belts.
One visitor, Amy Li, still had concerns about autonomous driving because driving behavior on the road can be complex.
“We’ve all had experienced such as other cars jumping the queue or making a sudden lane change.while robots don’t, at least at present,” she said. “The robots may not be able to with such changes.”
Baidu, known for its, has been testing autonomous driving on the open road since last year. Its Apollo Go robotaxi service has carried more than 210,000 passengers in three cities across China and aims to , the company said in a press release.
“In the future, Baidu Apollo will launch driverless robotaxis in more cities, enabling the public to access a greener, low-carbon, and convenient travel services, while continuing to improve the unmannedand general manager of autonomous driving technology at Baidu in a statement.