Press Release

Hefei licenses DiDi to have autonomous car road tests

DiDi Chuxing (DiDi) has been given green light to conduct road tests for autonomous cars by Hefei government, the Chinese ride-hailing giant said on September 4.

DiDi’s on-demand Robotaxi service has started picking up riders in Shanghai. Starting from June 27, upon sign-up via DiDi’s App, passengers can request autonomous driving rides for free within a designated open-traffic area that covers Shanghai Automobile Exhibition Center, the local business districts, subway stations and hotels in downtown Shanghai.

In accordance with current laws, DiDi’s Robotaixs are requested to have safety drivers in case any emergency happens. Besides, DiDi also supports the pilot project with a safety control center for real-time monitoring of vehicle and road conditions, and for improved remote command assistance designed to cope with larger-scale autonomous fleet operations in the future.

Key V2X (vehicle-to-everything) hardware is deployed at main junctions within the testing area to facilitate coordination among fleets and minimize safety blind spots.

“We will start with a mixed dispatch model that breaks out the current geo-fence limitations,” said Zhang Bo, CTO of DiDi and CEO of DiDi’s autonomous driving company. “Autonomous driving needs to go beyond being a novel but limited experience to become a reliable and efficient daily mobility option for the general public in highly complex real-world environment.”

Launched in 2016, DiDi’s autonomous driving unit has to-day had a staff over 400 and obtained testing licenses from authorities in California and key cities in China including Beijing, Shanghai and Suzhou. It was the first company afforded with a passenger-carrying service license for its autonomous fleet in Shanghai. In August 2019, the unit was spun off into a standalone firm.

More and more ride-hailing platforms are diving into the Robotaxi competition and some of them have made significant progress. On August 21, Baidu launched the full operation of its Robotaxi service “Apollo Go” in Cangzhou, Hebei province, which allows local commuters to enjoy a free self-driving taxi ride through a simple click on Baidu Maps, a desktop and mobile web mapping service application provided by Chinese Internet giant.

The latest move came after the tech giant fully opened the same service in April in Changsha. However, as for the location where the service is deployed, Cangzhou is the first city in China makes the Robotaxi available in downtown.

AutoX, a leading Chinese self-driving tech startup, announced on April 27 that its autonomous vehicles were available on AutoNavi’s Amap app, also known as Gaode in Chinese, which is one of the most popular navigation and mapping platforms in China.

At the initial stage, users in Shanghai had the chance to experience the self-driving rides after delivering an application via the Amap, while the chance was quite rare. The public launch was announced in mid-August, which was first available in Jiading District, starting with a fleet of 100 vehicles.


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