Trying out a self-driving robotaxi in China

China has sped up efforts to develop self-driving cars, with domestic tech companies testing autonomous vehicles in recent years.

Since 2019, tech giant Baidu has opened its robotaxi service to the general public in several cities in the country, allowing passengers to take the self-driving cabs for free via mobile apps.

Powered by the AI driving system, a robotaxi hit the road without even bothering to onboard passengers. Starting, accelerating, braking and parking – it can totally drive on its own, free from human intervention.

However, Chinese law requires safety drivers for autonomous vehicles to prevent potential accidents.

Full commercial operations of autonomous driving vehicles are still several years away with technical problems, high costs and lack of clear regulations, according to Baidu CEO Robin Li.

"Technology problems remain the biggest challenge," said Li in a tech event in 2020, adding that robotaxis wouldn't be fully commercialized until 2025. "The current market remained relatively small and that an underdeveloped supply chain meant costs were still high."

Read more: 

Commercialization of autonomous driving uncertain despite tech progress

In the video above, CGTN reporter Wang Tianyu tried out a robotaxi in central China's Changsha City and shared his first-hand experience.

Video editor and cameraman: Zhao Yuxiang

Scriptwriter: Wang Tianyu

Cover designer: Fan Chenxiao

Executive producer: Wu Gang

Supervisor: Pang Xinhua

Read more about our special coverage on China's 1-trillion-yuan star city of Changsha.


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