Guangzhou’s University Town was the site of China's first-ever driverless taxi ride on Thursday, November 1. Organized by Guangzhou Public Transportation Group, the service is open to the public and will test the new technology on campus roads from 2-4pm daily, according to Technode.
As of now, three taxis can shuttle passengers within University Town, with Guangzhou Public Transportation Group saying that they plan to expand the area the taxis operate in the future.
Each taxi is manned by a safety driver who is seated at the wheel and ready to take over steering in case the car encounters any issues. The self-driving taxis will have a starting fare of RMB12.
According to Guangzhou Daily, the vehicle is equipped with two laser radars, three cameras, a one-millimeter wave radar and a 360-degree sensor, all of which allow the taxi to operate autonomously and adjust to avoid objects in the near vicinity.
WeRide.ai, an autonomous driving company, provide the technology for the taxis used by Guangzhou Public Transportation Group. According to ABC 6, the company plans to deploy 500 self-driving cars over the course of 2019, as they seek to become a leader in the autonomous driving industry.
Screengrab via @广州日报/Weibo
They face stiff competition, however, as Chinese tech company Baidu recently gained significant ground in the race to be one of the first trusted providers of autonomous vehicles, by signing partnerships with a number of international automobile companies, including Ford and Volkswagen.
WeRide.ai, on the other hand, is backed by Alliance Ventures, the strategic venture capital arm of Renault-Nissan-Mitsubishi.
Elsewhere, the Shenzhen transport commission recently announced their plan to open 19 roads around nine districts in the city to be used for autonomous car testing. Shenzhen Daily reports that vehicles applying to take part in the trials must have already logged 1,000 kilometers of testing, and each vehicle should be accompanied by at least one emergency driver.
[Cover image via @广州日报/Weibo]