Baidu launches robotaxi service in Shanghai

  • September 13, 2021
  • Steve Rogerson

Baidu announced this week that it will begin public testing of Apollo Go in Shanghai, marking the fifth city where passengers have the ability to trial the robotaxi mobile platform.

Baidu is the only company to offer this service in the three first-tier cities of Beijing, Guangzhou and Shanghai.

The Shanghai operation will include 150 stations opened in phases throughout the city to provide users convenient access to residential areas, commercial areas, offices and public transportation. Passengers can use the service from 09:30 to 23:00 every day of the week.

This announcement comes on the heels of another milestone for Baidu Apollo, the expansion of Apollo Go to the Tongzhou district in Beijing, where the service will enable residents and visitors of the suburb to experience travel in an autonomous vehicle. The first batch of routes in Tongzhou will cover 22 stations with a total distance over 50km, allowing for more than 100 trips every day.

According to a recent IHS Markit report, the major market potential for autonomous vehicles in the future will be pinned on business models such as robotaxis, which are estimated to account for more than 60 per cent of China’s future mobility sharing market by 2030, exceeding $200bn. IHS also estimates that this portion of the market will be dominated by two to three robotaxi service providers, with the leading provider occupying more than 40 per cent of the market.

The autonomous driving industry in China has recently entered a new stage of development, characterised by trialling the implementation of large-scale applications. Wei Dong, vice president and chief safety operation officer of Baidu’s intelligent driving group, said achieving this large-scale implementation required three steps – regionalisation, commercialisation and verification – via unmanned on-road operation.

Baidu has already made headway in autonomous ride-hailing, achieving a 60% drop in cost per kilometre with the fifth-generation robotaxi vehicle released in June.

As of the end of August 2021, Apollo L4 autonomous driving accumulated 14 million test kilometres. Following the launch in Shanghai, Baidu plans to bring Apollo Go services to 25 more cities in the next three years, making autonomous driving a reality for three million people in China.

Founded in 2000, Baidu is an AI company with strong internet foundations.