Baidu, Inc., a leading AI company with strong internet foundation, has been granted the first-ever permits to provide fully driverless ride-hailing service in the Chinese capital Beijing. This marks a major milestone worldwide as the first-ever fully driverless fleet deployed in the capital city of any country. Users can now have access to fully driverless robotaxi service in three megacities in China: Beijing, Wuhan and Chongqing.
With the permits, Baidu Apollo will deploy a total of 10 fully driverless vehicles in Beijing Yizhuang Economic Development Zone. Yizhuang is one of the active centers of autonomous driving in China, with Apollo Go, Baidu’s autonomous ride-hailing service platform, currently providing an average of more than 20 rides per vehicle per day within the region, surpassing the average ride volume of traditional online ride-hailing services.
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According to the Beijing Municipal Government Work Report for 2023, the city plans to expand the Beijing High-Level Automated Demonstration Area (BJHAD), located in the Yizhuang Economic Development Zone, beyond its existing 60 square kilometers area towards an eventual 500 square kilometers. The city is also exploring pathways to operate autonomous driving vehicles bridging the Yizhuang Economic Development Zone and the city’s nearby airport, enabling commercial autonomous driving logistics operations serving the wider Beijing–Tianjin–Hebei region.
Baidu’s success in obtaining government permits to operate fully driverless services across multiple cities in China is rooted in the company’s decade-long technical exploration in autonomous driving. As of today, Baidu Apollo continues to lead the global competition in autonomous driving technology and is the only Chinese operator ranked among the leading autonomous driving vendors in the world, according to Guidehouse Insights Leaderboard released in Q1 2023.
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Baidu has been developing autonomous driving technology since 2013 and has accumulated more than 50 million kilometers testing mileage on Level 4 autonomous driving. The company currently holds over 4,600 patent families for autonomous driving technology, including the greatest number of high-level autonomous driving patents in the world.
Alongside breakthroughs in receiving government permits, Apollo Go has also witnessed continual milestones in its operation. In the fourth quarter of 2022, Apollo Go provided 561,000 rides to the public, up 162% year over year. The cumulative rides provided to the public by Apollo Go exceeded 2 million by the end of January 2023, ranking Baidu as the world’s largest autonomous ride-hailing service provider. Baidu aims to build the world’s biggest fully driverless ride-hailing area in 2023.
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