Chinese corporate giants flock to self-driving technologies

Source: Global Times Published: 2020/8/18 21:28:40

The robotaxi in Changsha, Central China's Hubei Province Photo: Tu Lei/GT

Companies with autonomous-driving test licenses include internet giants such as Baidu, Tencent and Alibaba, as well as traditional automakers such as BMW, Audi, FAW and Geely, and even ride-hailing companies Didi Chuxing are flocking to the industry.

It's been a year since Beijing awarded a self-driving license to Baidu. The company, teaming up with FAW and Hongqi, obtained five Beijing autonomous-driving road test licenses. The Hongqi EV is China's first L4 pre-installed, mass-produced self-driving passenger vehicle.

Baidu has conducted tests in 21 cities, including Chongqing and Wuhan, and more other cities in the near future.

On September 26, 2019, Baidu announced in Changsha, Central China's Hubei Province that a self-driving robotaxi fleet officially began trial operations. 

The first 45 "Hongqi EV" robotaxis jointly developed by Apollo and FAW Hongqi started trial operations on some open test roads in Changsha. Since then, Changsha citizens have been able to register on Apollo's website to take test rides.

On the third anniversary of the Apollo open platform's release on April 19 this year, the Apollo Robotaxi service in Changsha launched on Baidu Maps and a Baidu App smart mini-program. 

In a recent test drive in Changsha, GT found the self-driving ride was smooth, and the car easily made turns and stopped at red lights. 

In December 2019, Beijing regulators issued the first autonomous driving vehicle manned driving test notices. Baidu Apollo won 40 such licenses. So far, Baidu Apollo has obtained 120 manned autonomous driving test licenses, far exceeding its Chinese peers. 

As of now, the Apollo test fleet includes around 500 vehicles with a total test length of more than 6 million kilometers. Apollo has received more than 150 test licenses, including 120 manned autonomous driving test licenses. 

Didi Chuxing, China's largest ride-hailing platform, launched its self-driving taxi hailing program in Shanghai at the end of June, after the company raised $500 million from investors. The company said it plans to operate more than 1 million autopilot vehicles on its platform by 2030.

The development and application of 5G, artificial intelligence, big data and other technologies will promote the development of self-driving. However, industry watchers said that the biggest challenge is safety. While facing  complex situations, autonomous driving still needs to achieve further technological breakthroughs.

Global Times


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