Just last week, AutoX announced the roll out a fleet of autonomous RoboTaxis in downtown Shenzhen, representing the first time such vehicles have been deployed in China without safety drivers or remote operators.
Now the Beijing transport authority has given the green light for another first. Five of Baidu Apollo’s autonomous vehicles are being allowed to drive around the public streets of the nation’s capital without a safety driver aboard.
In order to meet the stringent safety requirements set by the Beijing authorities for autonomous vehicle testing, Baidu’s self-driving cars had to ace more than 30,000 km (18,600+ mi) of perfect test driving on open roads before undergoing an evaluation on a closed test track.
The test vehicles involved in the public trials will make use of Apollo’s AI driving system, which has transported more than 100,000 passengers across 27 cities around the world. But human assistance will be on call in case of emergencies, thanks to the company’s 5G Remote Driving Service.
This system combines smart transport systems, vehicle-to-everything technologies, and high-speed 5G networks to allow human operators to provide an extra safety net when necessary.
Baidu says that the fully driverless vehicle testing permits will allow the company to “gradually reduce human intervention on test vehicles and eventually remove in-car safety drivers from its autonomous vehicle road tests” and is a key step in the commercialization of autonomous vehicle technologies.