Logo of Phnom Penh Post newspaper Phnom Penh Post - First autonomous ‘robotaxis’ enter service in Beijing



First autonomous ‘robotaxis’ enter service in Beijing

Content image - Phnom Penh Post
An Apollo Go autonomous taxi on a street in Yizhuang, a town of Daxing District, in the southeast suburbs of Beijing on Thursday. AFP

First autonomous ‘robotaxis’ enter service in Beijing

It looks like a normal car but the white taxi by the kerb has nobody driving it, and communicates with customers digitally to obtain directions and take payment.

Beijing last week approved its first autonomous taxis for commercial use, bringing dozens of the so-called “robotaxis” to the streets of the Chinese capital.

The vehicles can only carry two passengers at a time and are confined to the city’s southern Yizhuang area.

An employee of the taxi firm also sits in the front of the car in case any sudden intervention is needed, but the vehicle drives itself.

The roll-out is a significant step forward for the driverless ambitions of Chinese tech giant Baidu and start-up Pony.ai, who were given the greenlight to deploy the cars on Thursday.

But it is expected to be years before the taxis operate fully without human intervention, due to regulations and safety requirements.

Developers are hoping Chinese consumers – who have embraced e-commerce, online payments and other digital solutions – will quickly get used to the sensation of travelling in a car without a driver.

Pony.ai co-founder Peng Jun said the key to moving the industry forward is “policy, technology and public acceptance”.

More than 500,000 trips have already been made in Pony.ai’s robotaxis during earlier testing stages, the Toyota-backed start-up said.

Passengers using Baidu’s “Apollo Go” cars must download an app called “Luobo kuaipao” – meaning “radish run” – and can hail a cab at one of 600 pick-up and drop-off points.

Sixty-seven Baidu taxis are on the roads in Beijing charging just over two yuan ($0.30) for a 5.9km journey.

Alibaba-backed start-up AutoX and ride-hailing giant DiDi Chuxing have also been running robotaxi pilot projects in cities around the country.

MOST VIEWED

  • NY sisters inspired by Khmer heritage

    Growing up in Brooklyn, New York, Cambodian-American sisters Edo and Eyen Chorm have always felt a deep affinity for their Cambodian heritage and roots. When the pair launched their own EdoEyen namesake jewellery brand in June, 2020, they leaned heavily into designs inspired by ancient Khmer

  • Schools drawn into Manet degree row

    Prime Minister Hun Sen stepped into the Hun Manet-Sam Rainsy war of words over the validity of Manet’s degree from the US Military Academy at West Point, set off by Rainsy’s claims that Manet had received a “second-class degree” or “honorary degree”. Hun

  • Cambodia records first Omicron community case

    The Ministry of Health on January 9 reported 30 new Covid-19 cases, 29 of which were imported and all were confirmed to be the Omicron variant. The ministry also reported 11 recoveries and no new deaths. Earlier on January 9, the ministry also announced that it had detected the Kingdom's

  • The effects of the USD interest rate hike on Cambodian economy

    Experts weigh in on the effect of a potential interest rate expansion by the US Federal Reserve on a highly dollarised Cambodia Anticipation of the US Federal Reserve’s interest rate hike in March is putting developing economies on edge, a recent blog post by

  • PM eyes Myanmar peace troika

    Prime Minister Hun Sen has suggested that ASEAN member states establish a tripartite committee or diplomatic troika consisting of representatives from Cambodia, Brunei and Indonesia that would be tasked with mediating a ceasefire in Myanmar. The premier also requested that Nippon Foundation chairman Yohei Sasakawa

  • Kampot tourism quay ‘90% done’

    Construction on Kampot International Tourism Port – a 4ha quay in Teuk Chhou district about 6km west of Kampot town – has fallen off track, reaching 90 per cent completion, according to a senior Ministry of Tourism official last week. The project is now planned to be finished