November 23, 2022
BEIJING – Beijing granted the latest autonomous driving permits to two robotaxi operators-Baidu Inc and Pony.ai- on Tuesday which, for the first time, allows the removal of a safety operator from the front seat on public roads in the capital.
With the permits issued by the head office of the Beijing High-Level Automated Driving Demonstration Area, the two companies will provide up to 10 autonomous vehicles respectively in a designated area of 60 square kilometers in Yizhuang, a southern suburb of Beijing. A safety supervisor will sit in back seats of the vehicle to ensure safety.
Both Baidu and Pony.ai received the permission to offer driverless robotaxi services in April in Beijing, where there was no safety operator behind the steering wheel. However, the safety operator should sit in the front passenger seat in case of an emergency.
In August, Baidu secured China’s first permits to offer fully driverless commercial robotaxi services-completely without human drivers in the car-in Chongqing and Wuhan, capital of Hubei province.