China hands Baidu’s robotaxis its first fully driverless licenses


Chinese search engine giant Baidu Inc now has permits to operate fully driverless robotaxis on open roads from two Chinese cities.

The permits, the first of their kind in China, were awarded by the southwestern municipality of Chongqing and the central city of Wuhan.

The permits, which come into effect on Monday, allow commercial robotaxis to offer rides to the public without human safety drivers in the car.

To test the waters, Baidu will deploy a batch of five fee-charging robotaxis in each city.

The robotaxis will be allowed to operate in designated areas from 9 a.m. to 5 p.m. in Wuhan and 9:30 a.m. to 4:30 p.m. in Chongqing.

Baidu is also looking at obtaining licenses in Beijing, Shanghai and Shenzhen within a year to test fully-driverless and unpaid robotaxis in those cities.

Apollo Go, Baidu’s robotaxi service, has operated over 1 million rides across 10 Chinese cities since its launch in 2020.

Baidu is yet to report any problems with the service.

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