Baidu and Pony.ai have been given permission to operate their autonomous vehicles without safety drivers in Beijing, a first for robotaxi services in China (via CNBC). Although both companies now no longer need a staff member in the driver’s seat, they’ll still need a supervisor present somewhere in the vehicle.
Baidu and Pony.ai can’t operate throughout the entire city of Beijing just yet — they’re limited to a 60 square kilometer (23.1 square mile) area in Yizhuang, Beijing, the home of about 300,000 residents. While Baidu can deploy just 10 autonomous vehicles in the area, CNBC says Pony.ai can only operate four. Both companies have plans to expand the number of vehicles on the road (with Baidu shooting for 30), but it’s unclear how soon that will happen.
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