Chinese tech company Baidu and self-driving startup Pony.ai have been given the go-ahead to launch paid driverless robotaxi services that will see the companies send out vehicles in Beijing, reports Reuters. The firms are limited to 100 robotaxis and only in a certain area. The state-backed Beijing Daily newspaper reported on the approvals on Thursday, citing a ceremony held by the Beijing Economic and Technological Development Zone, where the 60 square kilometer area is located.
Baidu said in a statement that this would be its Apollo Go service’s first commercial deployment on open roads. Customers will be able to hail one of the daily service’s 67 cars at more than 600 pick-up and drop-off points in both commercial and residential areas, it said. It will charge fares similar to the level of premium ride-hailing services in China, a Baidu spokesperson added.
Pony.ai, backed by Toyota Motor Corp, also confirmed that it had received the approval for its Xiaoma Zhixing service from Beijing on its official Weibo account.