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Baidu launched its Apollo Go robotaxi service in the Chinese cities of Changsha and Cangzhou back in August, shortly after announcing that its autonomous driving computer is ready for use on the streets. Now, Apollo Go has also made its way to Beijing, making it the first autonomous car service operating in the nation’s capital. Apollo Go’s service area in Beijing encompasses 435 miles of road with 100 pick-up and drop-off stations across several residential and business areas. Baidu says it has the longest road network for a manned autonomous driving test in China.
The tech giant will start operations with 40 autonomous vehicles in the capital. They’ll still have human drivers behind the wheel, though of course the ultimate goal is providing a truly driverless taxi experience. Passengers will be able to hail one of the service’s robotaxis by signing up on Baidu Maps or on the Apollo website. While the company didn’t mention it this time around, it noted that Apollo Go rides were free when they launched in Cangzhou.
Baidu started testing its driverless cars in Beijing in December 2019. Its Apollo fleet completed road tests in the capital totaling 322,500 miles over the past eight months, earning Baidu permission to open Apollo Go’s services to the general public.