Self-driving Taxi Service Promotes Smart Travel
Liu Xinlin, 22, experienced her first ride in a self-driving taxi in Changsha, capital of central China's Hunan Province.
"The taxi drove very smoothly by itself, and the safety supervisor and technician sitting in the front basically didn't have any manual control of it," said Liu after a 10-minute-long test ride. "The taxi passed through three or four intersections and it was a safe ride without any unexpected situations."
The self-driving taxis, named Robotaxis, are operated by Hunan Apollo Intelligent Transportation Co., Ltd. based in Xiangjiang New Area in the city. On April 21, the company announced that a batch of 30 self-driving taxis had entered public use in the city and users can hail one for a free ride.
The scope of the hailing service is about 130 square km covering residential communities, commercial areas and industrial parks in the city proper.
"I secured an appointment soon after setting the starting and ending points in the app," said Liu. "A safety supervisor contacted me and the taxi arrived in about 10 minutes."
"The in-car touchscreen can display obstacles and dynamic predictions within the 360-degree field of vision and clearly present the road conditions of passing vehicles, lanes, intersections and traffic lights," said Cheng Li, director of the test and vehicle operation department of the company.
Cheng added users can learn information such as the vehicle's speed and remaining distance through the screen in real time.
In September 2019, the company launched a trial service for a group of citizens, who had to first complete training and other procedures.
The technical personnel have started testing self-driving taxis and accumulated a lot of test data since the second half of last year, according to an employee of Baidu, the Chinese internet giant that developed the self-driving taxis.
China allowed local governments to arrange road tests for intelligent connected vehicles (ICVs), which cover different degrees of autonomous driving, in April 2018. An increasing number of cities, including Beijing, Shanghai and Chongqing, have issued license plates for road tests of ICVs.