Didi Chuxing’s on-demand robotaxi service will start picking up riders in Shanghai, China this week.
Starting from 27 June, upon sign-up through the main DiDi app, passengers may start requesting on-demand rides for free in autonomous vehicles within a designated open-traffic area that covers Shanghai’s Automobile Exhibition Center, the local business districts, subway stations and hotels in downtown Shanghai.
In addition to on-board mandatory safety drivers to help emergency response, DiDi also supports the pilot project with a safety control center, first of its kind in China, for real-time monitoring of vehicle and road conditions and enhanced remote command assistance designed to handle larger-scale autonomous fleet operations in the future.
Key V2X hardware is deployed at main junctions within the test area to facilitate coordination among fleets and minimize safety blind spots.
Didi Chuxing is one of the world’s biggest on-demand transportation and services platform, delivering over 10 billion trips per year in China, Japan, Australia and Latin America across a broad product offering that spans ride-hailing, taxi-hailing, two-wheelers, automobile solutions, food delivery, courier services, and others.
DiDi’s autonomous driving subsidiary, now with a staff of over 400, was launched in 2016, and now holds testing licenses in California, the U.S. and key cities in China including Beijing, Shanghai and Suzhou. DiDi was the first company to obtain a passenger-carrying service licence for its autonomous fleet in Shanghai.
Bob Zhang Bo, CTO of DiDi and CEO of the autonomous driving unit, said: “We will start with a mixed dispatch model that breaks out current geo-fence limitations.
“Autonomous driving needs to move beyond being a novel but limited experience to become a reliable and efficient daily mobility option for the general public in highly complex real-world environment.”
Cheng Wei, Founder and CEO of DiDi, said: “AI in transportation will no doubt revolutionise safety and efficiency of the urban transit system. DiDi’s biggest strengths are in our rich use cases, data capabilities and the strongest long-term commitment to what we believe to be a clear direction of the future.
“It will be a long way and takes at least a decade of continued investment, before AV technology passes critical technology, business and regulatory milestones; but we are determined to tackle the challenges ahead.
“We believe warm human driving service will be indispensable to the future mobility network, and new kinds of work and careers will emerge as the autonomous industry chain expands.”