Baidu’s robotaxi service is now available in all ‘first tier’ Chinese cities

Deepak Gupta February 18, 2022
Updated 2022/02/18 at 3:22 PM

Baidu’s Apollo Go robotaxi service should now be seen regularly in China’s largest population centers. Gizmodo and state China diary report that the technology company introduced Apollo Go for Shenzhen’s Nanshan district, making self-driving taxis available in all ‘first-line’ Chinese cities after launches in six cities including Beijing, Guangzhou and Shanghai. The launch spans one of the most densely populated regions in southern China (Shenzhen’s total population reaches 13 million) and offers autonomous ground tours of local tech industry heavyweights such as Huawei and Tencent.

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 the “high-frequency” transport arteries, including the Shenzhen Talent Park and the surrounding area. Baidu plans to expand coverage to over 300 stations by the end of 2022.

Apollo Go is far from ubiquitous at this stage. Baidu hopes to serve 65 cities by 2025 and won’t reach 100 cities until 2030. It also faces increasing competition from rivals such as AutoX, which also offers autonomous rides to the public. Even so, this represents one of the largest real-world robotaxi deployments. Waymo’s One service is only available in parts of the greater Phoenix area, while GM’s Cruise recently began offering limited public tours 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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