Shenzhen becomes the first city in China to test self-driving cars without human back-up, CNBC reports.
Chinese autonomous car technology firm, AutoX, a startup backed by Alibaba Group Holding Ltd (NYSE: BABA), MediaTek, and Shanghai Motors, is taking the lead by deploying a fleet of 25 crewless vehicles in downtown Shenzhen.
Multiple “Robotaxi” projects are going on in China but the vehicles still have a driver who can take over in emergencies or operate the care remotely.
AutoX has conducted “stress tests” in the last six months to test how the vehicle performs in various situations, the company said.
The startup has 100 Robotaxis in China’s streets, including 25 fully-unmanned vehicles in Shenzhen, Chief Operating Officer Jewel Li told CNBC.
The Robotaxi is available to private guests and employees and is not open to the general public yet, CEO Jianxiong Xiao said.
AutoX driverless technology is at a crucial juncture as it looks to test fully autonomous cars globally. According to TechCrunch, AutoX landed a permit in San Jose, California, to start driverless tests, catching-up to Alphabet Inc (NASDAQ: GOOG) (NASDAQ: GOOGL)-backed Waymo and Nuro.
“We have a plan in the next six months to expand to 10 cities globally,” Li said. The company sees Southeast Asia as the next rising market.
According to Li, AutoX has an advantage in Southeast Asia compared to other driverless technology developed in the West because streets in Asia are similar to Chinese cities.
“It’s close to a sci-fi kind of experience for most of our riders. When you really experience the vehicle fully driving itself, the level of excitement is overwhelming,” Li said.