What’s Happening: Baidu, a leading AI company, has received the first-ever permits to provide a fully driverless ride-hailing service in Beijing. This significant achievement makes Baidu the first company to deploy a completely driverless fleet in the capital city of any country. The permits will allow Baidu’s Apollo to deploy ten fully driverless vehicles in the Beijing Yizhuang Economic Development Zone, with users now able to access fully driverless robotaxi services in three Chinese megacities: Beijing, Wuhan, and Chongqing.
Why It Matters: The granting of these permits represents a significant step forward in autonomous vehicle technology and its widespread adoption. Baidu’s success in obtaining government permits in multiple Chinese cities can be attributed to its decade-long technical exploration in autonomous driving. The company’s autonomous ride-hailing service platform, Apollo Go, currently provides more than 20 rides per vehicle per day within the Yizhuang region, surpassing the average ride volume of traditional online ride-hailing services.
- According to the Beijing Municipal Government Work Report for 2023, the city plans to expand the Beijing High-Level Automated Demonstration Area (BJHAD) in the Yizhuang Economic Development Zone from 60 square kilometers to 500 square kilometers.
- Baidu Apollo leads the global competition in autonomous driving technology, being the only Chinese operator ranked among the world’s leading autonomous driving vendors.
- Baidu has been developing autonomous driving technology since 2013, accumulating over 50 million kilometers of testing mileage on Level 4 autonomous driving.
- The company currently holds over 4,600 patent families for autonomous driving technology, including the largest number of high-level autonomous driving patents globally.
Bottom Line: Baidu’s groundbreaking achievement in obtaining permits for fully driverless ride-hailing services in Beijing showcases its strong position in the autonomous vehicle market. With plans to build the world’s largest fully driverless ride-hailing area in 2023, Baidu is well on its way to becoming a dominant player in the global autonomous driving industry.