For the first time in China, it is now possible to take a taxi without anyone driving. Baidu (BIDU) and self-driving startup Pony.ai announced on Thursday that they have obtained the first license in the country to provide robotaxi driving services to the general public.
The permit does not require an operator to sit in the driver’s seat. Launched in Beijing on Thursday, the service will allow passengers to call taxis during the day using their respective apps in the company.
Currently, each company is limited to a designated area of 23 square miles, requiring one operator to stay in the passenger seat to take over in an emergency. The program is currently offered free of charge to drivers.
This announcement marks a major step forward in autonomous driving technology in the world’s largest automotive market. Baidu is best known for its search engines, but it also owns the largest self-driving car in China. The program will start with 10 vehicles and later add 30 vehicles.
Also read – China gives lockdown in 27 cities