AutoX Catches up in the Robotaxi Race, after Pony.ai, Baidu and WeRide
Shanghai welcomes its first robotaxi service provider.
►AutoX’s self-driving vehicles can pick up and drop off passengers at any location requested.
►Chinese autonomous vehicle companies, especially those research on Level 4, prefer southern cities to start their trial projects.
AutoX, a Chinese Level-4 autonomous driving tech company, plans to launch its robotaxi service in Shanghai in cooperation with Amap (aka AutoNavi), marking the first time in China that a robotaxi service has become available on a major ride-hailing platform.
Riders will be able to hail rides with ‘AutoX RoboTaxi’ through the Amap smartphone app, the same way they use regular ride-hailing services. As a rider enters their pickup and dropoff locations, the app lists all vehicles that can fulfill the request, including AutoX RoboTaxis. Riders can then choose to request both autonomous vehicles and regular human-driving vehicles at the same time, and the app’s algorithm will choose the vehicle with the earliest arrival time.
“The seamless combination of autonomous and human-driving fleets is crucial for the adoption and commercialization of self-driving technology. The service area of autonomous vehicles is an ever-increasing yet geo-fenced region, and the fleet size takes time to grow. This combination is a must-have for an autonomous driving company to be able to provide a truly useful service for all riders,” says AutoX CEO Dr. Jianxiong Xiao, often called “Professor X.”
Unlike other self-driving cars that can only stop at fixed stations, AutoX’s self-driving vehicles can pick up and drop off passengers at any location requested, providing great flexibility and convenience.
AutoX also offers the first self-driving taxi service in China that can reach the maximum speed of 80kmh on non-highway city streets. In consideration of COVID-19, AutoX has streamlined the identity confirmation and ride starting process to be completely touchless.
Similar projects have set across the country for a while. Pony.ai kicked off its robotaxi service in Guangzhou in December 2018, about one year after Google’s self-driving unit Waymo started its pilot project in Phoenix, Arizona. Baidu followed its pace in September 2019, launching an initial fleet of 45 autonomous cars in Changsha, capital of Hunan province. After that, WeRide, another startup in the vein, offered robotaxi in Guangzhou at the end of 2019. The company announced a total of 8,396 robotaxi rides were accomplished in December 2019, the first month of its trial operation.