Driverless Taxi Permits of Baidu, Pony.AI in Beijing Have Been Approved | Rides for Free?

Baidu and Pony have driverless taxi licences. AI has been allowed in China‘s capital city of Beijing, allowing commuters to use self-driving cars.

As a result, the Chinese tech giant Baidu’s driverless robotaxis and the autonomous vehicle company Pony.AI will begin operating on Beijing’s streets.

Driverless Taxi
BEIJING, CHINA – APRIL 22: Apollo robotaxis that are part of Baidu’s Apollo Go autonomous ride-hailing service are seen during a media tour at the Apollo Park on April 22, 2022 in Beijing, China. Baidu, the Chinese internet technology and AI giant, is making a big push into autonomous ride-hailing by testing its robotaxi service, called Apollo Go, in several major cities in China. In Beijing, Baidu’s driverless vehicles cover over 600 pick-up and drop-off points in both commercial and residential areas which riders hail by using an app. Baidu is facing competition from a number of start-ups in China, but the company, considered a leader in driverless technology, says Apollo Go will expand to open roads in 100 cities across China by 2030. (Photo by Kevin Frayer/Getty Images)

Driverless Taxi Permits

It is a major move for the Chinese nation as it further accelerates the commercialization of self-driving vehicles in the country, as per a news story by Nikkei Asia.

It is worth noting that the permits for both Baidu and Pony are the first two licenses that give the two firms the authority to operate their driverless taxi services in the streets of China.

Driverless Taxi
BEIJING, CHINA – APRIL 22: A “safety driver” holds his hands away from the steering wheel as he sits in an Apollo Moon robotaxi on the road in a demonstration area as part of Baidu’s Apollo Go autonomous ride-hailing service during a media tour at the Apollo Park on April 22, 2022 in Beijing, China. Baidu, the Chinese internet technology and AI giant, is making a big push into autonomous ride-hailing by testing its robotaxi service, called Apollo Go, in several major cities in China. In Beijing, Baidu’s driverless vehicles cover over 600 pick-up and drop-off points in both commercial and residential areas which riders hail by using an app. Baidu is facing competition from a number of start-ups in China, but the company, considered a leader in driverless technology, says Apollo Go will expand to open roads in 100 cities across China by 2030. (Photo by Kevin Frayer/Getty Images)

Baidu Driverless Taxi in Beijing

In fact, on the same day that the permission was approved, Baidu’s autonomous ride-hailing brand, Apollo Go, began offering rides to general users.

According to the news outlet, the permit still does not allow the tech behemoth to charge its passengers for robotaxi journeys.

Baidu has no reservations about it. Wei Dong, the Baidu Intelligent Driving Group’s chief security operation officer and vice president, revealed that “Apollo Go is not currently aiming profitability.”

Dong also told Nikkei Asia that their current goal is to expose the new self-driving option to the general population and make them more comfortable with autonomous technology.

Pony.AI Robotaxi

On the other hand, Pony.AI has also received its robotaxi license in the Nansha district of Guangzhou, giving it the authority to operate at least 100 self-driving taxis.

On top of the new permit, the capital city Beijing has given the auto startup, wherein Pony.AI will initially run four robotaxis, as per a news story by Engadget.

Meanwhile, the fleet of Baidu in Beijing consists of 10 self-driving vehicles.

Like Baidu, Pony.AI has yet to get approval to charge its passengers in Beijing.

Driverless Taxis in Beijing

Meanwhile, while both companies may begin operating on the roadways of China’s capital, they are not permitted to charge for their services.

The Beijing government also mandates driverless taxis to have one staff member inside the self-driving car to observe and guarantee that there are no problems. Despite this, these people are not required to drive.

Aside from these constraints, the autonomous taxi service could only pick up and drop off passengers at certain public pick-up and drop-off locations, such as parks and subways.