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The effort to develop self-driving technologies has been active and present in our lives and around the world, with many companies dabbling in the idea, including Chinese companies. Over the last several years China has enacted many regulations regarding the use of self-driving cars on its streets and the Chinese technology scene has been pushing its government more and more. Under Chinese regulation, autonomous cars currently still require a safety driver’s presence, however with this new vehicle coming to the market, things may change.
Apollo Go is a self-driving car model that has been active in China this past year, and its developers have unveiled the next vehicle to join its self-driving taxi service by the name of Apollo RT6. Supposedly, this new model has the road skills of a driver with 20 years’ experience.
According to BBC.com, the Apollo Go robotaxi service launched by China’s internet technology giant Baidu Inc. has expanded to several districts, providing autonomous robotaxi services to commuters there for the first time. Apollo Go uses a similar model as ride-hailing companies Uber and Lyft. Riders use an app to summon a driverless car and wait at a local station for the robotaxi vehicle to pick them up.
Currently, users are able to call a robotaxi via the Apollo Go app at one of approximately 50 stations, with daily operating hours from 9am to 5pm. These autonomous taxis are designed to operate completely autonomous, with no safety drivers on board and are backed by a 5G-powered “Remote Driving Service”. This service allows a human operator to take over control of the vehicle remotely in the event the software encounters any unexpected obstacles during the trip, such as a stalled vehicle or lane closure due to construction. Furthermore, each vehicle includes a suite of external sensors for safe navigation on public streets.
The company believes that robotaxi vehicles in the future will be more like “intelligent robots” rather than passenger vehicles and that these vehicles will one day “move, communicate and learn” using artificial intelligence. That is a highly educated guess, that might come to fruition earlier than we think.