RoboTaxis will be scaling up to cover other cities around China. © WeRide.ai
RoboTaxis will be scaling up to cover other cities around China. © WeRide.ai

Self-driving RoboTaxis launch in China

posted by Lucy Patchett
4 December 2019

Ride-hailing firm WeRide has launched more than a dozen automonous “RoboTaxis” in the Guangdong province of China.

The taxis launched last week using fully-electric Nissans. As part of a first phase they cover a 144.65sq km area in the Huangpu and Guangzhou Development District in Guangzhou, the capital of Guangdong. 

WeRide said the service would provide commuters with a “safe, convenient and comfortable autonomous driving experience”.

Li Zhang, COO at WeRide and CEO at WeRide RoboTaxi, said: “We will continue to improve our RoboTaxi products and services and create a business model that best fits China market and can be easily adopted at a local level.

“In the upcoming future, WeRide RoboTaxis will be distributed to more cities and regions in China to provide services for more passengers.”

The RoboTaxis uses level four autonomous driving software and hardware solutions, which allow the car to self-drive in most circumstances without human intervention. However, safety drivers in the car will have the ability to manually override the systems.

WeRide Robotaxi is a joint venture between WeRide, investment firm SCI Guangzhou Group and South China’s largest taxi company Baiyun Taxi Group, under state-owned Guangzhou Public Transport.

WeRide collaborated with project and investment partners, including automaker Alliance Renault-Nissan-Mitsubishi, to develop areas including vehicle retrofit, algorithm optimisation, fleet operation and 5G network applications.

Zhicheng Deng, chairman at the Guangzhou Baiyun Taxi Group, said: “The cooperation with WeRide has implanted genes of technological innovation into the traditional taxi industry.

“We will employ autonomous driving technologies to stay in the lead and continue to play an important role in the public transport sector in the future of smart cities.”

In September, technology firm Baidu also launched a self-driving fleet in Changsha, capital of Hunan province in Southern China.

In 2016, a report on the development of self-driving vehicles and taxis found that Chinese and Indian consumers were the most willing to use them.

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