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China Has Started Testing The Robotic Taxi Service Without Drivers

China Has Started Testing The Robotic Taxi Service Without Drivers

Startup WeRide will be the first company in China to test a driverless taxi service without a "safety net" in the form of a human driver. The first tests have already begun on public roads in the city of Guangzhou, according to Reuters.

The Guangzhou administration issued WeRide the first permit for remote control of vehicles in the capital of the southern province of Guangdong. Testing began on July 8, and the company released an official statement two days later. The first customers can already try out the service, but it will not be possible to go anywhere in the city — WeRide accepts orders only in a certain part of the city.

During the testing process, the company will continue to use certain security measures. The key one is that all cars are constantly remotely connected via 5G networks to the operations center, where operators monitor the traffic situation for each robot taxi and are ready to take control of it at any time. WeRide also provided for emergencies, such as road works or temporary changes in traffic rules on certain sections of streets. In these cases, remote operators will take control of the machines themselves.

"The WeRide Autonomous system is leading the industry in terms of technical stability and safety, and we will fully switch to driverless driving in the next two to three years. I am sure that WeRide will be the first company to provide Chinese citizens with a reliable service of self-driving robotaxis." Tony Han Xu, founder, and CEO of WeRide said.

The WeRide autopilot corresponds to the fourth level of autonomy, according to a scale compiled by SAE International. The fourth level or "mind off" implies full automation under certain conditions, for example, if the route was prepared in advance for self-driving transport. Most automakers are focused on this technology, except for Elon Musk-Tesla is going to "jump" immediately to the fifth level before the end of 2020.