Baidu and Pony.ai have landed the elusive license that will allow them to operate driverless Robotaxis on the streets of Beijing.
Baidu and Pony.ai received the permits last week, according to reports from Reuters. The Robotaxi is a long-awaited project from Tesla, and while the company plans to unveil the tech eventually, other companies are launching the operation in various cities throughout the United States and China. Waymo started operating a Robotaxi service in San Francisco last year, along with GM’s Cruise.
Baidu is one of the largest tech firms in China and is looking to establish its Apollo autonomous taxi service in Beijing after receiving a license to operate just last week. Baidu states that it plans to roll out ten autonomous vehicles in the city, but it has already begun operations in cities to the south, including in Wuhan and Chongqing.
Meanwhile, Toyota-backed Pony.ai operates in another city to the south, Guangzhou.
While Baidu has focused on implementing its autonomous vehicle technology on its own Apollo EV, Pony.ai has used numerous vehicles from countless manufacturers, and not all of them have been electric. This includes vehicles like the Lincoln MKZ, the Hyundai Kona, and the Toyota Sienna.
Much like the Cruise robotaxis that General Motors has deployed in San Francisco, these autonomous vehicles operate entirely without needing a driver. They have slowly but surely grown in popularity since their establishment.
Across the Pacific in the United States, Tesla will face similar competition. Besides the aforementioned GM-backed Cruise robotaxi service, Ford and Hyundai have invested significantly in establishing autonomous vehicles. Hyundai has found some of the most success in this respect, as it has partnered with both Lyft and Uber in introducing its autonomous vehicle service to numerous cities in the western United States.
Despite the growing demand for these competitor services, Tesla has remained tight-lipped about its robotaxi offering, and a specific release date has not been announced. However, with the Q1 2023 Tesla earnings call just around the corner, there is no doubt many investors and analysts alike will be looking for details about the fabled project.
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