Pony.ai, Baidu get permits for driverless ride-hailing in Beijing city area

Pony.ai will seat a safety supervisor in the front passenger seat of the driverless vehicle to ensure the security of the services to the general public.
By : HT Auto Desk
| Updated on: 28 Apr 2022, 10:36 AM
A safety staff member sits inside a robotaxi autonomous vehicle developed by Baidu Apollo as it drives along a street in Beijing on April 22, 2022.  (AFP)
A safety staff member sits inside a robotaxi autonomous vehicle developed by Baidu Apollo as it drives along a street in Beijing on April 22, 2022.  (AFP)
A safety staff member sits inside a robotaxi autonomous vehicle developed by Baidu Apollo as it drives along a street in Beijing on April 22, 2022.  (AFP)
A safety staff member sits inside a robotaxi autonomous vehicle developed by Baidu Apollo as it drives along a street in Beijing on April 22, 2022. 

Baidu and Pony. ai have received permits from the Beijing municipal government to provide driverless ride-hailing services in a 60 sqm area in the Chinese capital city. The permit would allow 10 of its autonomous vehicles to offer rides on the open roads in the area, without human drivers sitting behind the wheel. However, Pony.ai will seat a safety supervisor in the front passenger seat to ensure the security of the services to the general public.

Though 10 vehicles are allowed, Pony.ai hasn't revealed how many cars it would deploy under the new permit. These permits are the latest set of approvals that the municipal government has handed out over the past year to the two companies, which have been allowed to test drive their autonomous vehicles in some areas of the city.

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In November last year, both the companies were allowed to launch their robotaxi services in a smaller area in the same zone, and were also allowed to charge fees from the passengers but authorities required them to retain a safety driver behind the wheel. And now, the mandate to have safety drivers has been removed.

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Pony.ai, which is backed by Toyota Motor Corp, has also obtained a taxi license in Guangzhou, allowing 100 of its autonomous vehicles to start charging fares for rides in the southern city's Nansha district. However, these vehicles will retain safety drivers in the front passenger seats to ensure passenger safety.

With this achievement, Pony.ai is racing ahead in robo-car race as connected tech transforms emerging economies’ transportation. In its Tech, Media & Telecom Predictions 2022 report, published in December 2021, GlobalData predicted that level 4 robotaxis will be available across the world’s urban areas by 2025. Pony.ai’s pilot project is the first step in this prediction becoming a reality, putting it ahead of the likes of Waymo and Tesla.

First Published Date: 28 Apr 2022, 10:35 AM IST
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