China has approved the use of autonomous robotaxis in Shanghai

  • Officials in China have approved the use of robotaxis in Shanghai
  • Four companies will be taking part in the trial: Baidu, Saike Technology, Pony.ai, and Auto X
  • It’s been hailed as a significant step for autonomous vehicles

Published on Jul 11, 2024 at 7:27 AM (UTC+4)
by Claire Reid

Last updated on Jul 11, 2024 at 9:00 PM (UTC+4)
Edited by Tom Wood

Officials in China have approved the use of autonomous robotaxis in Shanghai as the country makes moves to become the global leader in driverless vehicles.

Residents in certain parts of the bustling city will now be able to order and use free robotaxis from four companies – Baidu, Saike Technology, Pony.ai, and Auto X.

The companies have been licensed to offer completely unmanned robotaxi services on specified open roads.

READ MORE! POV of using a driverless taxi is so hard to comprehend

Robotaxis will be take to the streets of Shanghai

The project will see the taxis sent out into a 205-kilometer testing area in Shanghai’s Pudong district, according to a post shared by Pony.ai on WeChat. 

The testing area covers 205 kilometers of roads in Shanghai’s Pudong district, Pony.ai said in a WeChat post.

Shanghai is the latest of several cities in China to allow trial runs of robotaxis without safety operators, with Beijing, Shenzhen, and Guangzhou all previously signing up. 

The move has been hailed as an important step for autonomous taxi firms – particularly when it comes to the future of commercializing robotaxis. 

“It may still take longer to see large-scale commercialization of robotaxis in China, but approval [from major cities] is an important step in granting these companies access to test their technology and access road data,” said Angus Chan, an auto analyst at Bocom International told The Wall Street Journal.

China isn’t the only country exploring driverless taxis

China isn’t the only country getting in on the robotaxi market.

Amazon subsidiary Zoox has been spotted on the streets of Las Vegas in the US – specifically by us – while Waymo is currently operational in parts of San Francisco and certain areas of Phoenix, Arizona.

“Tesla and Waymo have conducted massive trials on the West Coast,” Qu added.

“China can’t be inactive and wait when U.S. companies have already made their move.”

Meanwhile, Tesla boss Elon Musk has previously suggested that Tesla owners could potentially end up making $30,000 a year by turning their cars into robotaxis when lawmakers allow it. 

Tesla is due to launch its own robotaxis next month and has recently shared a glimpse at how the service will work

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Claire Reid

Claire Reid is a journalist who hails from the UK but is now living in New Zealand. She began her career after graduating with a degree in Journalism from Liverpool John Moore’s University and has more than a decade of experience, writing for both local newspapers and national news sites. Across her career she's covered a wide variety of topics, including celebrity, cryptocurrency, politics, true crime and just about everything in between.