The first completely driverless fleet of robotaxis hits Shenzhen.
The first truly driverless, autonomous taxis are hitting the road in China.
AutoX, a four-year-old AI startup partnering with Alibaba’s Amap, MediaTek and Shanghai Auto, has been given the green light to launch a fleet of unmanned vehicles in downtown Shenzhen’s techy Nanshan District. The company was founded in 2016 by Dr. Jianxiong Xiao, a self-driving technologist and former professor from MIT and Princeton University.
Up to now, AutoX RoboTaxis had safety drivers in the vehicles, ready to take over control if needed. But following six months of “driverless stress tests,” the company was recently given the green light to go completely driverless. It’s the first time autonomous vehicles have been deployed on public roads in China without human safety drivers or remote operators.
It follows in the footsteps of Waymo’s fully driverless program outside of Phoenix, Arizona, last year. While impressive, Waymo’s service is limited to a 50-square-mile area around Chandler, Arizona, a city with a population of about 250,000.
Not only is Shenzhen’s Nashan District about 40% larger geographically, it’s also considerably more congested, with just over one million residents. AutoX says its Driver platform is capable of handling the densest and most dynamic traffic conditions in urban cities around the world. It was the first to successfully navigate the downtown traffic in a megacity like Shenzhen from any point to any point, according to the company website.
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