Date: September 25, 2023. — The Beijing High-level Automated Driving Demonstration Area (BJHAD) Office announced that it has approved three new routes for autonomous vehicle testing. It connectes the city’s inner-city region to Beijing Daxing International Airport. The routes will allow Baidu’s Apollo Go Robotaxi service to offer fully driverless rides to passengers traveling to and from the airport, starting from October 1, 2023.
The three routes cover a total distance of about 150 kilometers. They pass through various complex road scenarios such as tunnels, bridges, intersections, and highway ramps. The routes will also link up with other existing robotaxi testing areas in Beijing, such as Yizhuang, Haidian, and Shunyi districts. Passengers will be able to hail a robotaxi without a safety driver behind the steering wheel. They can do this using Baidu’s app or mini program. The fare will be 299 yuan ($46) per ride, which is slightly higher than the average cost of a human-driven taxi.
The ambitious plan to expand the BJHAD is already underway. The Beijing Municipal Government declared it a top priority in 2023. The aim is to stretch the current 225-square-kilometer testing zone to an impressive 500 square kilometers, encompassing various parts of the city. This expansion effort reflects Beijing’s commitment to embracing cutting-edge autonomous vehicle technology.
Baidu’s Apollo Go platform is also operating in other cities in China, such as Shanghai, Guangzhou, Chongqing, and Wuhan. The company plans to expand its fleet size and service area in the future. They aim to build the world’s largest fully driverless ride-hailing area by the end of 2023. Baidu also hopes to export its technology to other countries and regions, such as Japan, South Korea, and Southeast Asia.
Beijing Daxing International Airport is a bustling hub handling an average of 127,000 passengers daily during peak summer seasons. It stands as a pivotal player in this venture. Moreover, the introduction of autonomous vehicle testing at this major airport signifies a remarkable step toward realizing autonomous logistics applications along the Beijing-Tianjin-Hebei corridor. It also marks a significant milestone in enhancing the capital’s transportation network. This major airport is taking important strides in advancing autonomous technology and improving regional transportation.
Leading the charge in this transformative endeavor is Baidu’s Apollo Go Robotaxi service platform. Moreover, Baidu received early approval to conduct autonomous Robotaxi testing on open roads within the airport’s vicinity. This expansion of Apollo Go’s autonomous capabilities opens up a world of possibilities. It offers passengers the convenience of seamless autonomous travel from city streets to airport terminals.
Baidu’s Apollo Go has firmly established itself as the world’s largest autonomous driving service provider, with an impressive track record. By June 30, 2023, it had processed a staggering 3.3 million orders. Notably, in the second quarter of 2023 alone, Apollo Go provided 714,000 ride services, marking an impressive 149% year-on-year increase. Furthermore, this exponential growth underscores the increasing demand and acceptance of autonomous transportation solutions.
The approval of the new routes in Beijing is part of the city’s efforts. It aims to promote the development and commercialization of autonomous driving. Beijing also aims to increase the number of robotaxi users and improve their satisfaction by providing more convenient and affordable services.