Several companies across China now offering taxis, including Alibaba-backed vehicle
A self-driving robotaxis service is now being offered in many Chinese cities, according to multiple media reports.
Several companies are already offering the service, including auto-services provider Didi Chuxing, which was created by Chinese e-commerce giant Alibaba, and Kunshan Import and Export Co, a logistics firm founded by Li Ruigang, the billionaire co-founder of Alibaba.
They are the latest step in the country’s rapid development of autonomous vehicle technology. More than 100 companies are working on the technology in China, and several cities have previously allowed unmanned vehicles onto the roads.
The companies launched their services by offering short-term chauffeur rides, covering the Beijing-Hebei border and the eastern city of Foshan, the China Daily reported.
Also on the market are female drivers and guided vehicle drivers with private licence plates. In Foshan, drivers can select passengers and download a special mobile application to control their car remotely.
The companies are able to roll out their services thanks to advances in autonomous driving technology. The Zhejiang Motor Group, a unit of tech conglomerate Fosun International, developed the first autonomous vehicle in China in 2014.
Chen Jie, a professor of computational materials and design at the China Academy of Telecommunication Technology, said self-driving cars would have to learn to sense traffic volumes, different traffic conditions and people’s movements.
“The important advance of robotics is to manage complexity,” he said. “It has moved past translating data into action.”