BEIJING, March 27 — Driverless taxis are now available for hire in suburban Beijing, marking a new chapter in intelligent transport, Xinhua quoted the China Daily report on Monday.

Beijing earlier in March granted licences to Chinese tech giant Baidu and autonomous vehicle startup to run fully driverless robotaxi services, according to the news report.

This is the first time that a fully autonomous fleet of vehicles has been granted permission to operate in a world-class metropolis, the report added.

The two companies, both among the leading players in China’s autonomous driving industry, have each deployed 10 autonomous vehicles in a 60-square-kilometre area in Yizhuang, located in the southern suburb of Beijing, according to the report.

It added that Baidu plans to expand its autonomous ride-hailing services to 65 cities in 2025 and 100 in 2030.

China’s self-driving taxi service is expected to reach 1.3 trillion (US$188.6 billion) by 2030, accounting for 60 per cent of the country’s ride-hailing market at that time, the report stated, citing forecasts from global consultancy IHS Markit.

Despite current limitations that require robotaxis to operate in designated zones due to complex road conditions and lack of legal shortfalls, their coverage is expected to expand with the accumulation of data and improvements in algorithms, Yale Zhang, managing director at Shanghai-based consultancy Automotive Foresight, was quoted as saying.

The robotaxi is also expected to pave the way for the development of private autonomous vehicles, which have the potential to be a revolutionary technology capable of transforming people’s lives, Zhang added.


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