On November 28, Guangzhou-based self-driving startup WeRide started piloting their robo-taxi service in Guangzhou’s Huangpu and development districts.
In partnership with Baiyun Taxi Group and SCI Group, WeRide’s robo-taxi pilot program marks the first time a robo-taxi fleet is operating in a first-tier Chinese city, according to Southern Daily.
The fleet, which consists of 20 fully electric Nissan vehicles, picks up passengers within an area of 144.7 square kilometers. Using the WeRide Go app, available on iOS and Android, people are able to hail a WeRide robo-taxi within the permitted area.
Screengrab via App Store
In November 2018, WeRide tried to launch self-driving taxi operations in Panyu district, but authorities thwarted the service after WeRide failed to gain approval from Panyu Traffic Police.
READ MORE: Self-Driving Taxis Shut Down in Guangzhou
“Our goal is to use the leading L4 self-driving technology, reducing labor and equipment costs, until we reach a completely unmanned fleet; At the same time, improving vehicle operation efficiency to achieve a profit,” said WeRide COO and CEO Zhang Li, as cited by Southern Daily.
Technode reported that a human will be in the driver’s seat and that the company has issued vouchers worth RMB200 to random individuals in Guangzhou Science City office park. While it’s not clear when the service will be fully operational, a quick look on the WeRide Go app revealed several robo-taxis currently on the road in the city’s eastern districts.
Screengrab via WeRide Go
Guangzhou is home to two leading Chinese autonomous vehicle startups – WeRide and Pony.ai. The latter company is valued at USD1.7 billion and started testing out its autonomous fleet on urban public roads last year, according to Technode.
[Cover image via @威海科技/Weibo]