As the world advances closer to having fully autonomous taxis, an Alibaba backed startup has hit the roads with self driving taxis.
On Thursday, the company called AutoX took the public roads in Shenzhen and has become the first self-driving taxi company in China.
The story was reported by CNN and it stated that previously, there were already autonomous shuttles by the company on the public roads of China but they still required safety drivers inside of them. The current program, however, is very different as AutoX removed the backup driver for the local fleet of 25 taxi cars.
Although the government is not restricting the company, it is said that AutoX will mainly be focused on the downtown area. The company had also released an official video of its minivan called the Flat Chrysler Pacifica that was able to navigate by itself through China’s downtown area. The video showed passengers all getting in, loading a package in the back, and even letting a dog hop inside for a spin.
Xiao said the company won over regulators after working to improve both its software and hardware. “We have over 100 vehicles driving every day on the road [in China] to capture data,” he said. “The AI software is better [now.]”
“From a technical point of view, the car is ready,” Xiao said. “It’s very crucial to have this car, otherwise we cannot go driverless.”
AutoX was founded in 2016 by Xiao, a former assistant lecturer at Princeton who still likes to be called “Professor X.” The Shenzhen-based firm focuses on making the technology that goes into self-driving cars, and partners with major automakers, such as Fiat Chrysler, to develop and put out its robotaxis.