Chinese mobile transportation platform Didi Chuxing (DiDi) has announced that customers will soon be able to hail a robo-taxi via an app on their smartphone as part of a new pilot program being held in Shanghai.
Cheng Wei, founder and CEO of DiDi, made the announcement at Shanghai’s World Artificial Intelligence Conference (WAIC), where DiDi showcased the robo-taxi service on a closed track.
“Technology only has worth when it brings value to people’s lives,” said Wei. “We believe giving ordinary citizens access to large-scale, shared autonomous fleets is key to achieving our shared goal of safety, efficiency and sustainability for future cities.”
Zhang Bo, CTO of DiDi and CEO of DiDi’s autonomous driving company, added, “Working with our auto-industry partners, DiDi has the potential to become the first business to realize large-scale robo-taxi service in China.”
The Shanghai government awarded DiDi permits to test its AV fleet on August 28, 2019. Zhang announced that DiDi will deploy 30 different models of Level 4 autonomous vehicles to provide pilot robo-taxi services in the Jiading District of Shanghai. Given the complex traffic and road conditions in the megacity, DiDi will begin the program with a mixed dispatching model, which will combine both autonomous vehicles and human-driving vehicles for the duration of the pilot robo-taxi project.
DiDi’s autonomous driving team now has over 200 specialists leading a comprehensive R&D operation covering a multitude of research areas, including HD mapping, perception, behavior prediction, planning and control, infrastructure and simulation, labeling, problem diagnosis, vehicle modifications, connected car, and security, among others. The team is developing and testing autonomous driving vehicles in both China and the USA.