Chinese technology company Baidu announced Monday that it may sell some robot taxi rides without any human personnel in the vehicles.
BEIJING – Chinese technology company Baidu said Monday it has become the first robotaxi operator in China to be allowed to sell rides without any human driver or staff inside the vehicles.
The local government approvals allow Baidu̵[ads1]7;s Apollo Go robotaxi business to eliminate the cost of human personnel in some cases.
The initial scope of the permits is small: 10 robot axes spread over two suburban areas of Wuhan and Chongqing, two large Chinese cities.
In April, Baidu and rival robotaxi operator Pony.ai received approval from a suburban district in Beijing to operate robotaxis without a human driver. But the Chinese capital still requires human personnel to sit in the robot axle with passengers.
Municipal governments across China have issued an increasing number of permits in the past year that allow robotaxi companies to operate and charge fares in selected areas.
In the US, Alphabet’s Waymo and General Motors’ subsidiary Cruise can already drive public robotic taxis without human personnel in the vehicles. Laws for testing robotic axes and charger riders vary by city and state.
Baidu claimed that it has received more than one million orders for robot taxi rides. In the first three months of the year, the company said it had 196,000 rides. Baidu will publish results for the second quarter on 30 August.