Baidu’s fully automated self-driving robotaxis will soon be hitting the streets of Beijing.
Shougang Park was chosen to be the first location for the taxis to go live, and it also happens to be one of the venues where the 2022 Beijing Winter Olympics will be taking place.
These new taxis will become operational on 2nd May, making them the very first paid robotaxi service in China.
Dubbed ‘Apollo Go’, those who find themselves in need of transportation at Shougang Park will be able to hail a ride to coffee shops, hotels, work areas and sport halls, etc.
During the Olympics, both athletes and staff will be able to take advantage of the new taxi service.
In a similar way to other ride-hailing apps, passengers will be able to locate a nearby self-driving taxi and book a driverless ride.
Before the doors unlock, you will be asked to scan a QR code on the car for identity verification.
In addition, you will be asked to scan a health code for the purposes of COVID-19 contact tracing.
Once you are ready for the ride to begin, all you need to do is press the ‘Start the journey’ button.
The company emphasises its focus on safety, so “all the passenger safety protocol checks” will be put in motion before the start of the journey.
This includes checking that the doors are closed and that all seat belts have been fastened.
Furthermore, in case of “exceptional” emergencies, the company ensures that a human operator will be able to take remote control of the vehicle over 5G.
According to Baidu’s autonomous driving technology vice president Yunpeng Wang, countless scalable driverless tests have been performed in many cities.
The company has been running these tests since last October in areas such as Haidian, Yizhuang and Shunyi.