Monday, March 27, 2023

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China: Baidu obtains the first permits to use taxis without a human driver

It seems that the robotaxis promised years ago are finally hitting the roads. The only problem is that they're not Teslas, but products of Beijing-based internet search giant Baidu.

The company, similar to Google in the US, has received "the first permits to provide completely driverless ride-hailing services in a Beijing suburb," according to a Bloomberg article on Friday morning. Baidu says it plans to roll out 10 robotaxis to start in Beijing's Yizhuang Economic Development Zone, which Bloomberg notes is "about the size of Manhattan."

The vehicles will not have a human driver on board. As a condition of obtaining the new permits, the company will not yet be able to charge the cost of the rides. “In August, Baidu obtained the first commercial licenses for completely driverless taxis in Wuhan and Chongqing,” Bloomberg wrote.

In Yizhuang, the company already provides around 20 rides per day, per vehicle, using its own autonomous ride-hailing service with a security operator.

Robotaxi Baidu

Recall that already in 2021 Baidu had declared that its robotaxis would be cheaper than human drivers by 2025 . Whether or not Baidu considers itself on target is unknown, but it appears to be heading in the right direction.

In 2021, Baidu said it plans to offer robotaxi services to 3 million users by 2023. Chief Executive Officer Robin Li said at the time, “Based on our current projections, I think by 2025 we will cross the line, which means that the total cost of robotaxi ride-hailing will be lower than that of manned vehicle ride-hailing. After that, I believe the scale will be able to grow much more than it is today. And I think by then we should be able to present a separate budget."

Obviously this innovation endangers entire categories of workers around the world. Not only traditional taxis, but also all innovative web services such as Uber and Lyft, however based on human operators, will soon be outdated. Where will these workers be placed?

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The article China: Baidu obtains the first permits to use taxis without human drivers comes from Economic Scenarios .

This is a machine translation of a post published on Scenari Economici at the URL on Sun, 19 Mar 2023 07:00:03 +0000.