Baidu launches self-driving taxi in China




Chinese technology giant Baidu has unveiled the next vehicle to join its self-driving taxi service, Apollo Go.


It says its new model, the Apollo RT6, has the the road skills of a driver with 20 years' experience.


Baidu is China’s highest-profile competitor in a multibillion-dollar race with rival autonomous vehicle developers including Alphabet Inc.‘s Waymo and General Motors Co.’s Cruise to turn their futuristic tech into a consumer product.


With no one at the wheel, a self-driving taxi developed by tech giant Baidu Inc. is rolling down a Beijing street when its sensors spot the corner of a delivery cart jutting into its lane.


The taxi stops a half-car-length away. “So sorry,” a recorded voice tells passengers. The steering wheel turns on its own as the taxi makes its way around the cart. A Baidu technician watches from the front passenger seat.


Founded in 2000 as a search engine operator, Baidu has expanded into artificial intelligence, processor chips and other technology. It says its autonomous vehicles could, if successful, make driving cheaper, easier and safer.


“We believe the top goal of autonomous driving is to reduce human-caused traffic accidents,” said Wei Dong, vice president of Baidu’s Intelligent Driving Group.