The first Robotaxi service is already operational in China | Motor

We have seen many autonomous cars in testing, but the Baidu Apollo is the first that is already available to the general public. No more raising your arm and shouting in the middle of the street: “Hey, taxi!”.

The autonomous taxis they are already here. At least in China. The first Robotaxi service is now available in Beijing. It will be one of the star transports of the 2022 Winter Olympics.

As with Google in the West, Chinese search engine Baidu is also one of the pioneers in autonomous car technology, with 2,900 patents in the field of intelligent driving.

Baidu has been developing self-driving electric cars for 8 years, with a fleet of 500 vehicles that has driven 10 million kilometers in test drives. The authorities consider that his Robotaxi service, called Baidu Apollo, is already prepared to transport passengers through the streets of Beijing like a conventional taxi service … but without taxi drivers …

Since last May 2, Baidu Apollo already works around Shougang Park.

Electric robotaxis cannot travel throughout Beijing, they are restricted to an area of ​​a few kilometers in length that corresponds to where the facilities and hotels of the future 2022 Winter Olympics will be.

In a way It is a testing phase for the autonomous transport of the sporting event, but with real passengers.

People who want to use the Robotaxi service come to the stop and call one using the Apollo Go app. On a map they indicate where they want to go:

Next, the taxi must scan a QR code that appears on the mobile to confirm that the ticket has been paid, and another code on the health card, which indicates that that person has been vaccinated against the coronavirus.

Already inside the vehicle, the autonomous taxi will not start until the doors are closed and the passengers have buckled up.

It only remains to enjoy the comfortable and silent journey. Whether you miss (or not) the talks about the weather or football with the taxi driver, it depends on each one …

This device replaces the old radio in an old car and offers Android Auto or Apple CarPlay with voice assistants from Google and Siri, apps from Google, YouTube, Spotify and much more.

The Baidu Apollo robotaxi They use an autonomous navigation system that takes advantage of the 5G connection to receive data from the environment, and cameras with motion detection. We do not have data on the speed it reaches, although the most logical thing is to think that they circulate more slowly than conventional cars.

Nor do we know if these autonomous taxis have their own lane, or circulate alongside conventional vehicles.

“In the future, Baidu Apollo will launch driverless robotaxis in more cities, allowing the public to access greener, low-carbon and more comfortable travel services, while continuing to improve the driverless service process and user experience, “explains Yunpeng Wang, vice president of Baidu’s motor division. “The commercialization of autonomous driving can effectively alleviate congestion and help peak carbon dioxide emissions and achieve carbon neutrality in China.”

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