China’s Baidu to start robotaxi service in Beijing

China’s Baidu will begin offering robotaxi service in certain Beijing districts starting from today. Baidu, one of the largest technology

Screen Shot 2021 05 01 at 12 39 07 PM

Photo: China Daily

China’s Baidu will begin offering robotaxi service in certain Beijing districts starting from today.

Baidu, one of the largest technology companies in China and a rival to Google, will start charging passengers for limited driverless taxi service in the city. This marks the first fared rides of an autonomous car in the country and a significant step towards commercializing driverless services.

Self-driving cars are a unique and significant technological challenge, and more than one tech giant has given up on autonomous driving due to the financial burden. The commercialization of driverless cars will significantly reduce this burden and bring a level of credibility to Baidu. Advanced technology is one area where China has historically lagged behind the US. By deploying a robotaxi service only months after Waymo’s launch in Phoenix, China is showing that it can keep pace in high-tech.

There is a strong probability that the EU—which sees tremendous benefits in autonomous cars—may turn to Baidu’s Apollo software which is likely to come in cheaper than Waymo. This would require significant EU-China vehicle technology integration, which would prime Chinese automakers for the EU market.

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