Baidu and Pony.ai have secured permits to run fully driverless ride-hailing services in the Chinese capital of Beijing.
Baidu’s Apollo service will deploy 10 fully autonomous vehicles in a technology park developed by the government of Beijing, the Chinese ride-hailing giant said in a statement.
The permit marks a step forward from December, when Baidu said it had been granted a licence to test the service. Baidu will now operate driverless robotaxi services in three Chinese cities including Wuhan and Chongqing.
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The vehicles will not have humans in the driving seat nor safety operators.
Beijing-headquartered Baidu, which generates most of its revenue from its internet search engine, has been focused on self-driving technologies over the past five years as it looks to diversify.
Pony.ai, backed by Toyota Motor said in a separate statement that it had also received such a permit from Beijing city. It already operates a robotaxi service in the southern city of Gaungzhou.
- Reuters with additional editing by Sean O’Meara
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