Baidu’s Robotaxi is now available in first-tier Chinese cities

Robotaxis are going to be a major and commonly pointed sight in China. In a piece of recent news, Baidu’s Apollo Go robotaxi services are going to be a regular sight in China’s biggest population hubs. The Shenzhen rollout covers one of China’s most densely populated areas.


Robotaxi in Dense Populations


Gizmodo and state-owned China Daily report the tech firm has introduced Apollo Go to Shenzhen’s Nanshan District, making self-driving taxis available in every ‘first-tier’ Chinese city following rollouts in six cities that include Beijing, Guangzhou, and Shanghai.

Shenzhen is the seventh city where Baidu has introduced its robotaxi ride services in China, following Beijing, Shanghai, Guangzhou, Chongqing, Changsha, and Cangzhou. Shenzhen’s Nanshan District, home to top tech companies including Tencent and Huawei, is one of the most densely populated areas in south China.

The launch covers one of the most densely populated regions in southern China (Shenzhen’s total population tops 13 million) and offers autonomous rides on the home soil of local tech industry heavyweights like Huawei and Tencent.

The initial robotaxi service is available through Baidu’s Apollo Go app at 50 stations between 9 AM and 5 PM. The initial focus is on “high-frequency” transport arteries, including Shenzhen Talent Park and the surrounding area. Baidu plans to expand coverage to more than 300 stations by the end of 2022.


Aiming for higher coverage in future


Apollo Go is far from ubiquitous at this stage. Baidu expects to serve 65 cities by 2025, and won’t reach 100 cities until 2030. It also faces growing competition from rivals like AutoX, which also offers self-driving rides to the public. Even so, this represents one of the largest real-world robotaxi deployments.

Waymo’s One service is only generally available in parts of the Phoenix metropolitan area, while GM’s Cruise just recently began offering limited public rides in San Francisco. Baidu is ahead of the curve, and it’s just a question of whether or not the company can sustain that advantage.



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