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‘Look, No Hands!’ - AutoX Rolls Out China’s First Self-Driving Fleet Without Safety Drivers

By Ding Yi / Dec 04, 2020 12:53 PM / Business & Tech

AutoX has rolled out a fleet of completely driverless robotaxis in the downtown area of Shenzhen, making it the first player in China to test autonomous vehicles without safety drivers or remote operators.

The milestone comes just five months after AutoX obtained a permit from the California Department of Motor Vehicles (DMV) to test a self-driving vehicle without a human driver behind the wheel in San Jose.

The vehicles deployed in Shenzhen are powered by AutoX’s 5th-generation autonomous driving system made up of ultra high-resolution cameras, a pair of Lidar sensors, 4D radar sensors and blind spot sensing suits, the company said in a statement emailed to Caixin on Thursday.

The Alibaba-backed startup also released a video to showcase how its autonomous vehicle navigates around loading trucks, yields to pedestrians and performs a U-turn without human intervention on Shenzhen’s roads.

A company spokesperson told Caixin that the new initiative is still on a trial basis, the robotaxis are not yet available to the city’s general public, and there is currently no timetable for when the service will be ready for regular passenger use.

However, AutoX’s move marks a bold attempt to test how receptive people are to vehicles without human drivers especially at a time when other self-driving companies in China offer similar services with safety drivers sitting in the cars in case of emergency.

AutoX’s domestic rivals are also making efforts to materialize the dream of transporting passengers in robotaxis that are capable of tackling traffic emergencies totally by themselves.

In July, WeRide, a Chinese self-driving technology developer backed by Nissan, said it would test fully driverless cars connected to a 5G-enabled remote control system in Guangzhou, but that there would be a backup driver in the back seat during road tests.

Contact reporter Ding Yi (yiding@caixin.com)

Related: Alibaba-Backed AutoX Plans to Test Self-Driving Tech in Four More Cities


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