Baidu has received what it says are the first permits ever issued in China authorizing a company to provide driverless ride-hailing services to the public on open roads in the capital city, Beijing. The company says that the regulatory approval marks a significant milestone for the autonomous ride-hailing industry in China, indicating regulatory openness to taking a further step toward a fully driverless mobility future.
With the permits issued by the head office of the Beijing High-level Automated Driving Demonstration Area (BJHAD), 10 autonomous vehicles without drivers behind the steering wheel will offer rides to passengers in a designated area of 60km2 in Beijing. The cars will join an existing fleet provided by Apollo Go, Baidu’s autonomous ride-hailing service, in the capital city.
Baidu has the largest autonomous driving fleet in China. In expanding its driverless vehicle services, the company says it has worked to meet the unique technical challenges of Beijing’s complex traffic environment. Plans are already underway to add 30 more such vehicles, expanding the fleet to provide more convenient driverless services to the public.
The granting of permits also brings Baidu closer to scalable operation of its autonomous ride-hailing services in Beijing. Apollo Go has expanded to nine cities in China since its launch in 2020, including all the country’s first-tier cities (Beijing, Shanghai, Shenzhen and Guangzhou) and five other cities (Chongqing, Changsha, Cangzhou, Yangquan and Wuzhen).