Chengdu is gearing up for its first commercial ride-hailing service with a fleet of driverless robotaxis, dubbed Xiaojia 3D.
The company plans to have 1,000 driverless taxis on its service by year’s end, with a fleet of 5,000 to start operating in November. The robots are set to transport 21,000 people by the end of the year, with Chengdu eventually having 50,000 robotaxis by 2021.
The fleet can accommodate 48 passengers in 1,000 mbus (one mbus is 5 feet 6 inches tall and would be 3 feet 9 inches from the hip), traveling for 20 minutes on a crowded city street. The driverless vehicles use real-time mobile navigation on Google Maps and PingPong.it to get there. As a reminder that robotic taxis can barely get from point A to point B: the entire Chengdu rollout took almost a year to get it off the ground.
This isn’t the first driverless taxi seen in China. A long-distance driverless cab was deployed last month in Changsha, capital of Hunan province. The service will be available for trips in the city’s main business and trading district. Other car companies are also developing their own driverless taxi system in China to compete with the old investment in electric vehicles.
Price of the driverless taxis vary, depending on demand and license requirements. The good news for human passengers in Chengdu is that they won’t be riding in a robot taxi, according to company. The bad news for robot taxi companies: China has just as many regulations as other countries.
First introduced in May, the semi-autonomous vehicles have the ability to ease traffic congestion and cut congestion on city streets. For example, the cars work in a position not unlike that of a small bus. In a similar system, the human passengers already known to stop with each stop sign. The driverless vehicle is alerted of the stop sign and the position from the self-driving taxi.
Using Geiger counters, they are able to adjust their speed accordingly, stopping several car lengths to allow the human to cross the road safely.
Seeking the Vision
Until recently, driverless cars have been used more for personal use, and there was less use in commercial use, according to Audi. But the company is now willing to test its cars as well. It was one of the companies to offer a transport center to help students and other shuttles develop their routes, add stations, and establish policy.
“Because the Vision platform is Google’s operating system, it would be difficult to develop a bus without the support of Google,” Audi says in a statement.