The licenses are effective immediately in the two Chinese cities of Chongqing and Wuhan, as the Chinese technology giant and Google competitor Baidu announced on Monday. Robotaxis could now operate there without additional safety drivers.
This is a turning point in dealing with self-driving cars, Baidu explained. The operation of the robotaxis is initially restricted to certain periods of the day. Baidu is starting with five cars in each of the two cities and is already negotiating an expansion of the offer to cities with a population of over a million, such as Beijing and Shanghai.
According to its own statements, the Chinese group’s robotic division has now completed more than a million trips in ten Chinese cities.
Corporations invest billions
Baidu competes with Toyota co-funded startup Pony.ai. This is already allowed to use robotic taxis with restrictions in Beijing, but must continue to have a driver in the passenger seat.
Car companies and technology companies around the world are investing billions in the development and operation of self-driving cars. China and the USA are more advanced than Germany and other countries when it comes to approvals.
In San Francisco, California, driverless robot taxis from the startup Cruis are already on the road on selected streets.