autonomous taxi, Baidu,

Tech Giants Baidu and Pilot Driverless Taxis in Beijing Suburb

Following trials in cities across China, Baidu and’s autonomous taxis are hitting the streets in Beijing, a city with more than 6 million cars on its streets

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Hayley Zhao
7:42 AM HKT, Thu March 23, 2023 1 mins read and Baidu’s Apollo, two of China’s top autonomous vehicle (AV) companies, received permits from Beijing’s local government on March 17 to operate driverless taxis in Yizhuang, a suburban area in the city’s southeastern region, also known as the Beijing Economic-Technological Development Area.

autonomous taxi, Baidu,

Baidu testing its driverless taxi in Beijing in 2021. Image via VCG

Within a 60-square-kilometer area, multinational technology company Baidu has launched 10 autonomous taxis running from 7 AM to 10 PM. The cost of a ride is slightly higher than a regular taxi, with a starting price of 18 RMB (2.6 USD) for the first 3 kilometers and 4 RMB (0.6 USD) per kilometer after that. will also operate in the same pilot area and charge a fixed price generated by algorithms based on distance and traffic information, similar to Uber. For, this will be the first time its vehicles will run without a safety operator.

Customers in Beijing can order the robotaxis directly from Baidu or’s apps.

Both companies have operated autonomous taxis in more than 10 other major Chinese cities, and the scale of vehicle deployment is even larger in cities like Wuhan and Guangzhou, with over 100 vehicles. No significant accidents have been reported.

autonomous taxi, Baidu robotaxi

College students get into a Baidu robotaxi in Chongqing. Image via VCG

In recent years, China has been moving fast to incorporate self-driving cars into the transit infrastructure in its cities. According to a report by XYZ-research, a Chinese market research institute, China’s AV market grew to a valuation of 9.41 billion RMB (1.4 billion USD) in 2021. It is expected to reach 12 billion RMB (1.7 billion USD) by 2023.

Last July, the first set of regulatory clauses on AVs was passed by the Shenzhen city government in South China, setting a precedent for other cities in the country.

In contrast to China’s full embrace, people in the United States have more reservations regarding AVs. Surveys recently released by AAA and the Advocates for Highway and Auto Safety show that almost 70% of Americans are afraid of driverless vehicles.

After fatal accidents involving self-driving vehicles from Tesla and Uber made headlines in recent years, the American public is cautious when it comes to integrating AVs into everyday life. The lack of government regulations is another major concern.

Cover image via VCG

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