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Baidu kicks off trial operation of Apollo robotaxi in Changsha

Monika From Gasgoo| September 27 , 2019 14:20 BJT

Shanghai (Gasgoo)- Baidu kicked off on September 26 the pilot operation of its Apollo Robotaxi in Changsha, capital of Hunan province, with the first batch of 45 self-driving taxis deployed on urban roads.

All taxis are Hongqi-branded electric vehicles with Level 4 autonomous driving capability jointly developed with Chinese state-owned automaker FAW Group. 

Baidu Apollo Robotaxi Changsha, Baidu Hongqi EV L4, China automotive news

(Photo source: Baidu)

Apollo Robotaxi is set to offer passengers rides in a pilot zone in Changsha covering an area of 70 square kilometers and spanning 135km, which is so far the largest one in China boasting the most extensive coverage of complex road conditions and the most advanced vehicle-infrastructure synergy system, said Baidu.

The trial operation will be conducted within 50-km-long road by the end of 2019, and in the first half of 2020, the self-driving fleet will stretch its operation to cover the entire 135km.

According to Baidu's press release, an Apollo robotaxi is able to perform a number of autonomous driving functions, including changing lanes based on road conditions, judging the driving status of surrounding vehicles and conducting avoidance when it is overtaken by other vehicles from a close distance.

To ensure passengers' safety and comply with current regulations, a human operator will be allocated to each taxi to take control of the driving system in situations that may threaten passengers and vehicles' safety.

The Hongqi EV, which is purportedly China's first-of-its-kind L4 mass-produced autonomous vehicle, has been also given go-ahead to be tested on open roads in Beijing. With a factory-installed customized Apollo OBU (On-Board Unit), the L4 Hongqi EV can carry out L4 V2X communication with intelligent roadside equipment and achieve a seamless interplay between vehicle and infrastructure, said Baidu.

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