Baidu, a Chinese technology firm, claims its robotaxi service is on the cusp of becoming as popular in major cities as conventional ride-hailing services.
Based on a FactSet transcript of the earnings conference held on Tuesday, Nov. 22, CEO Robin Li said that during the third quarter, each of Baidu’s self-driving taxis performed an average of more than 15 trips per day in Beijing, Shanghai, and Guangzhou.
The average daily trips for conventional ride-hailing services are very close to the said level, Li added.
For context, the most recent accessible municipal data from New York City indicates that the average number of daily trips taken through ride-hailing apps per active car was around 12, as per CNBC’s report.
Baidu’s robotaxis (Apollo Go) are now limited to specific suburban regions in Beijing, Shanghai, and Guangzhou. The total number of vehicles in each city’s fleet. However, it was not disclosed.
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It is unclear whether the business plans to charge for trips on its robotaxis in Guangzhou or Shanghai.
About a year ago, Baidu received permission from Beijing City to begin charging for rides in its robotaxis in the Yizhuang area, located about a half-hour outside of the city’s downtown.
Robotaxi trips in Beijing’s Yizhuang neighborhood continue to be significantly subsidized by both businesses. On Wednesday, CNBC checked the Apollo Go and Pony.ai applications and discovered steep discounts of over 80%.
Baidu’s robotaxi operations are active in numerous cities around China, and the service can accept fares in at least seven of those places.
The company said on Tuesday that the number of rides taken in robotaxis during the third quarter increased by more than 300% year over year, reaching over 474,000.
On the earnings call, CNBC reported that investors inquired when Apollo Go would turn a profit.
The company responded that it anticipates the robotaxi to become profitable and less expensive than conventional ride-hailing services and that the resulting impact on Baidu’s overall profit and loss and cash flow is “manageable.”
Baidu’s robotaxis have safety measures to assist autonomous driving. A safety operation network, redundant monitoring, and remote driving are included.
Before, Baidu’s robotaxi trips required a presence of a human employee. In August, it was announced that these vehicles might start operating without a safety driver after gaining regulatory approvals.
Reuters reported that Chongqing and Wuhan had received licenses allowing commercial robotaxis to operate without human safety drivers.
Permissions still have limits. Apollo Go automobiles could only carry people in Wuhan and Chongqing during the day.
However, the Yongchuan District in Chongqing and the Economic and Technological Development Zone (WHDZ) in Wuhan would each only have 30 and 13-square-kilometer service areas, respectively.
This week, though, Baidu claimed it got approval from Beijing authorities to test 10 driverless taxis in Yizhuang area.
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Written by Trisha Kae Andrada
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