Baidu expands driverless Robotaxi coverage in Wuhan, to be world’s largest fully driverless ride-hailing area in 2023
Published: Dec 26, 2022 07:53 PM
Photo: Courtesy of Baidu

Photo: Courtesy of Baidu

Baidu, a leading AI company with strong internet foundation, on Monday announced a major expansion of its commercialized fully driverless robotaxi service in Wuhan, tripling the size of its operation area, increasing the number of robotaxis in service and expanding operating time to include prime evening hours. 

The move marks a major milestone on Baidu's ambitious autonomous ride-hailing roadmap, as the company plans to put an additional 200 fully driverless robotaxis into operation across China in 2023, aiming to cover the largest fully driverless ride-hailing service area in the world by the end of the same year. 

With this most recent expansion, Baidu's autonomous ride-hailing service platform Apollo Go now covers an area of 130 square kilometers (50 square miles) in Wuhan, serving a population of 1 million. 

Apollo Go has witnessed growth in Wuhan over the past several months, having begun operations in the city in May 2022. Three months later, Wuhan became the first city in China to host commercial operation of fully driverless autonomous driving after Apollo Go upgraded its services in August. 

As one of the leading centers of automotive industry innovation in central China, Wuhan has been actively leading the way in enacting policies to support autonomous driving. At present, Wuhan has over 400 kilometers of roads fully enabled by intelligent networks, ranking at the forefront in China.

The speed of Apollo Go's expansion in Wuhan is backed by Baidu's years of experience in autonomous driving technology. 

Drawing on a decade of R&D investments in this area, Baidu's mature technology and systems allow the company to deploy autonomous driving at scale. Baidu has accumulated more than 40 million kilometers of L4 autonomous driving test mileage and 3,477 autonomous driving patent families, holding the world record for number of autonomous driving patents for four consecutive years. 

In addition to Wuhan, Apollo Go currently provides commercialized autonomous ride-hailing services in cities including Beijing, Shenzhen and Chongqing. Apollo Go's service in Chongqing and Wuhan features driverless commercial operation, with no driver or safety operator in the car, making the company the first in China to operate fully driverless robotaxis in multiple cities. 

By the end of the third quarter of this year, the cumulative order volume of Apollo Go exceeded 1.4 million, ranking Baidu as the world's largest robotaxi service provider.

"The generalization ability of Baidu's autonomous driving technology has progressed at a more advanced pace than expected. Now, the lead time to deploy autonomous driving technology in a new city is only 20 days," said Wang Chong, Chief Brand Officer of Baidu Intelligent Driving Group. 

In a latest released financial report of the third quarter alone, Apollo Go has completed more than 474,000 rides, up 311 percent year on year, and a 65 percent increase compared to last quarter.

Global Times