Chinese tech giant Baidu has launched the world’s first self-driving taxis in China. This not only makes China the first country to adopt the technology but also makes Baidu the first company to successfully commercialize it.
Unlike Baidu’s previous public demonstrations, this time there was no safety driver behind the steering wheel. There was only a safety member in the front passenger seat to deal with any emergency situations.
These paid taxis are called Apollo “robotaxis” and around 10 of them have been deployed in an area of 3 square kilometers. They pick up and drop people off in Shougang Park in western Beijing and each ride costs about 30 yuan (Rs. 712). Passengers aged between 18 to 60 are allowed in these autonomous taxis.
These self-driving cars were reportedly forced to hit the brakes when they encountered jaywalkers or curious tourists who came too close for photos. However, a Chinese couple that works in the AI industry commented that they had a smooth riding experience in these taxis.
I would recommend people experience this. There is a strong sense of technology, because nobody is in the driver’s seat.
The couple even said that they were considering buying the autonomous car for personal use.
However, another rider addressed the concerns about autonomous driving since road behavior can often be complex and erratic.
We’ve all had experiences such as other cars jumping the queue or making a sudden lane change. People have emotions while robots don’t, at least at present. The robots may not be able to deal with such changes.
But as with any other self-driving car, we can only hope that they will improve over time with experience.