Baidu Launches Self-Driving Robotaxi Service, Ready for the 2022 Winter Olympics

The self-driving cars launched on May 2nd in Beijing 6 photos
Photo: Baidu/Facebook
Baidu launched on May 2nd its first robotaxi serviceBaidu launched on May 2nd its first robotaxi serviceBaidu launched on May 2nd its first robotaxi serviceBaidu launched on May 2nd its first robotaxi serviceBaidu launched on May 2nd its first robotaxi service
Starting May 2nd, Chinese users can hail a self-driving robotaxi to go about their business. The fully driverless Apollo Go service will first launch in Beijing's Shougang Park, one of the venues for the 2022 Beijing Winter Olympics, and it will soon be transporting visitors, athletes, and staff to the upcoming games.
Since October of last year, Baidu has been conducting public autonomous driving tests in areas such as Yizhuang, Haidian, and Shunyi. The introduction of completely driverless robotaxi services in the capital represents a starting point for commercialized operations in first-tier Chinese cities.

According to Chinese media, Hongqi HS5 vehicles will be equipped with Baidu's self-driving technology. The roof of the cars features a 360 panoramic camera and radar. Compared with the traditional models, the automatic driving system that detects road conditions is more accurate, and the cars have a longer range.

So, how does the process work? Well, the passengers can come to the specific taxi stop, then click on the Apollo go app to locate a robotaxi in the vicinity. After entering the destination, they can order themselves a driverless ride. Features include virtual reality navigation and remote car honking that can help users to identify where the car is.

To unlock the vehicles, a QR code needs to be scanned. After the passenger onboards, they can click the "Start the Journey" button, and the system checks if the seat belts are on and if the doors are safely closed. Only after detecting no problems, the vehicle will start moving. The 5G Remote Driving Service will allow people to remotely access the self-driving cars in case of emergency.

During the Winter Olympics, the autonomous vehicles will be available to provide pick-up services for athletes and staff. As claimed by Chinese media, Baidu will operate at first about ten driverless taxis in Beijing Shougang Park. The service will be open to the public, and it will charge 30 yuan ($4,63) for a single trip.

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About the author: Florina Spînu
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Florina taught herself how to drive in a Daewoo Tico (a rebadged Suzuki Alto kei car) but her first "real car" was a VW Golf. When she’s not writing about cars, drones or aircraft, Florina likes to read anything related to space exploration and take pictures in the middle of nature.
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