Chinese tech giant Baidu got the green light to launch its self-driving taxi services in Beijing. Called the Apollo Go, the service will include a fleet of 67 autonomous cars and over 600 pick-up and drop-off points.
Baidu has been conducting numerous autonomous driving tests in major cities in China since October of last year. Now, the company has received a permit from the head office of the Beijing High-level Automated Driving Demonstration Area that allows it to charge fees for autonomous services offered to the public in a designated area. The introduction of self-driving services in the capital represents only the start, as the company plans to extend Apollo Go in multiple first-tier cities.
Baidu's Apollo Go service operates 67 self-driving taxis and covers 217 miles (350 km) of roadways in Beijing. It includes more than 600 pick-up and drop-off stations in both business and residential regions.
According to Chinese media, Baidu's autonomous vehicles are based on the electric mid-size SUV, the Arcfox Alpha-T. The car has a 93.6 kWh battery and a range of 406 miles (653 km) on a single charge when equipped with self-driving technologies. All of the taxis come with a 360-degree panoramic camera and radar mounted on the roof.
The Apollo Go service is accessible to citizens from 7 a.m. to 10 p.m. every day of the week. Passengers can order a taxi from one of the designated stations and use the Apollo Go app to identify a robotaxi from their vicinity. A remote car honking feature is available, helping them locate their vehicle easily.
With the launch of Baidu's Apollo Go robotaxi service, the number of autonomous cars and the areas of operation is expected to be increased in order to meet the local commuters' needs. The company hopes to expand its services in other major cities as well and contribute to the development of commercialized autonomous driving in China.