While the world is racing towards fully autonomous taxis, it seems like an Alibaba backed startup has finally started hitting the road. On Thursday, the company called AutoX took the public roads in Shenzhen and has become the first self-driving taxi company in China.
AutoX: Self driving taxi china
The story was reported by CNN and it stated that previously, there were already autonomous shuttles by the company on the public roads of China but they still required safety drivers inside of them. The current program, however, is very different as AutoX removed the backup driver for the local fleet of 25 taxi cars.
Although the government is not restricting the company, it is said that AutoX will mainly be focused on the downtown area. The company had also released an official video of its minivan called the Flat Chrysler Pacifica that was able to navigate by itself through China's downtown area. The video showed passengers all getting in, loading a package in the back, and even letting a dog hop inside for a spin.
Self driving taxi service
The video also showed the car making its way around loading trucks, performing U-turns, and even veering past walking pedestrians. AutoX CEO known as Jianxiong Xiao stated that it is a dream and that after many years of hard work, the company has finally reached a point where they can say that their technology is now "mature" enough. The CEO also expressed confidence in themselves to the point of removing the safety driver.
Xiao then stated that AutoX has been able to win over regulators after they had worked hard to improve not just the hardware but also the software. It was stated that the company has 100 vehicles all driving every single day in China in order to capture needed data. It was also assured that the AI software is also better now.
Self driving cars 2020
AutoX currently has 100 robotaxis all deployed within five different Chinese cities which include both Wuhan and Shanghai. Over the course of the next year, the company aims to double its current reach to 10 other local cities. As of the moment, their vehicles in Shanghai are available for public use through the use of Alibaba's Autonavi app which is a Chinese mapping app.
China, the current home of the world's largest auto setor, could also someday become the very top global market for these automated vehicles, according to the report of a certain consulting firm called McKinsey. The report projects that China could even generate as much as a whopping $1.1 trillion in revenue from the whole autonomous mobile services by the year 2040.
Xiao stated, however, that the industry still has a long way to go which could take about another five years before the use of self-driving taxis could finally be a norm. It was said that the bar is now incredibly high and that everything is still extremely challenging but as of the moment, they are very happy.
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Written by Urian Buenconsejo