Caixin
Jun 28, 2020 01:59 PM

Didi Trials ‘Robotaxi’ Service in Shanghai

What’s new: Chinese ride-hailing giant Didi Chuxing is piloting its “robotaxi” service in Shanghai, taking a tentative step toward its grandiose goal of operating more than 1 million autonomous vehicles by 2030.

Going online Saturday, the service allows commuters to hail autonomous rides for free through Didi’s app and is now only available in designated areas that include the financial hub’s business districts, Didi said in a statement.

A human backup driver will still be present in the car and can take over the controls in the event of an emergency, according to the statement.

The driverless taxis are powered by “vehicle-to-everything” (V2X) technology, which enables the car to interact with road infrastructure like traffic lights, the company said, adding that it has installed V2X equipment at major junctions within the test areas.

What’s the background: The news comes just days after Didi announced plans to operate more than 1 million self-driving cars through its platform by 2030 as part of its ongoing efforts to build a smart transport system.

Last month, Didi raised $500 million from SoftBank for its autonomous driving subsidiary, which was spun off as a standalone company last year.

In China’s emerging “robotaxi” market, Didi is facing fierce competition from several domestic players including Baidu, Pony.ai, AutoX and WeRide. Baidu, which is known for its Apollo self-driving platform, is trialing its “robotaxi” service in parts of Changsha, capital of Central China’s Hunan province.

Quick Takes are condensed versions of China-related stories for fast news you can use.

Contact reporter Ding Yi (yiding@caixin.com) and editor Joshua Dummer (joshuadummer@caixin.com)

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