Baidu, the Chinese internet giant that became known for its search engines, is making great strides in self-driving. In the United States, we were treated to beautiful reports. However, the legislation for driverless vehicles has been skating for 5 years!
It was in Huwan that robotaxis made their appearance
Starting this week, the public can reserve their robotaxis in Wuhan between 7 a.m. and 11 p.m. without a safety driver behind the wheel. Previously, its unmanned vehicles could only operate from 9 a.m. to 5 p.m. in the city. The updated program is expected to cover one million customers in selected areas of Wuhan, a city of more than 10 million people.
Apollo Go had exceeded 1.4 million orders in the third quarter of 2022
Like most self-driving vehicle startups, Baidu combines a mix of third-party cameras, radar and lidar to help its cars see better in low-visibility conditions, unlike Tesla’s vision-based solution.
In August 2022, Baidu began offering fully driverless robotaxi rides, charging passengers taxi fares.
In the third quarter, Apollo Go, the company’s robotaxi app, made more than 474,000 rides, up 311% year-over-year.
This looks like a potentially big revenue stream for Baidu if the numbers are correct. It is not uncommon for the company to offer discounts to entice consumers to use these robotaxis.
It’s also hard to say which of the Chinese robotaxi has a lead at this point.
Their expansion depends on their relationship with the city where they operate, and larger cities often have the power to pass certain local laws.
As one of the few consumer internet sectors still left with plenty of room for growth, self-driving is receiving warm support from local authorities nationwide.
For example, Wuhan, an industrial hub in central China, is one of the first cities in the country to let robotaxis drive the public without on-board security operators. And now the city seems to be comfortable with driverless cars roaming even at night in low-light conditions.
In the United States: the legislation is late
Automakers and tech companies face a long road to remove regulatory barriers to deploying autonomous vehicles without human control on public roads. Legislation in Congress has reportedly stalled for more than five years on how to change regulations to encompass self-driving cars, including consumer protections and legalities.
Europe is struggling
Europe is lagging behind, especially in robotaxis, which is expected to be the largest future market segment for autonomous vehicles (AV). The difficulty of obtaining VA and robotaxi test permits is the main reason for the low European development activity. In addition, the high quality of public transport has limited the need for public transport and may also slow the growth of robotaxi use.