Baidu received the first-ever permits in China authorizing the company to provide driverless ride-hailing services to the public on open roads in Beijing. This regulatory approval marks a significant milestone for the autonomous ride-hailing industry in China, indicating a regulatory openness to taking a further step toward a fully driverless mobility future.
With these permits issued by the head office of the Beijing High-level Automated Driving Demonstration Area (BJHAD), ten autonomous vehicles without drivers behind the steering wheel will offer rides to passengers in a designated area of 60 square kilometers in Beijing. These licensed cars will join an existing fleet provided by Apollo Go, Baidu’s autonomous ride-hailing service, in the capital city of China. Starting April 28, 2022, users will be able to hail a driverless ride using the Apollo Go mobile app in daytime from 10:00 to 16:00.
Currently, Baidu has the largest autonomous driving fleet in China. In expanding its driverless vehicle services, Baidu has worked to meet the unique technical challenges of Beijing’s complex traffic environment. The company plans to add 30 more such vehicles at a later stage, expanding its fleet to provide more convenient driverless services to the public.
The new permit represents Beijing’s collaborative and safety-first approach to autonomous vehicle regulation, progressing from the manned autonomous driving stage to the driverless stage. It also represents a benchmark regulation for the global autonomous vehicle industry, given the complexity and high density of urban traffic in Beijing.
Baidu’s success in securing this regulatory permission can be attributed to its strong foundation in AI and its leading test-drive mileage. Baidu has a proven track record of over 27 million kilometers (16 million miles) of road testing accumulated in the past 9 years with zero traffic accidents, including mileage recorded by driverless test cars in multiple cities across China as well as in California.