A Baidu Apollo robotaxi is seen in Beijing. HUANG YONG BEIJING - Beijing approved the commercial operation of autonomous driving service without in-car safety supervisors for the first time on Friday.
The first batch of two fully-driverless ride-hailing platforms, operated by Chinese tech giant Baidu and the autonomous vehicle startup Pony.ai, received approval after a three-month pilot program on public roads.
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The pilot program involved the ability to deal with complex scenarios such as intersections, narrow roadways, and extreme weather conditions, such as rain, snow and sandstorms.
Safety supervisors were required to stay in the driver's seat, passenger seat or second-row seats when the vehicles underwent road tests and commercial operation.
The permit allows Baidu and Pony.ai to provide fully driverless rides without a safety supervisor aboard in a 60 square-kilometer area of the Beijing Economic-Technological Development Area.
Residents can summon a driverless car without a safety supervisor to travel to various destinations such as subway stations, key commercial areas, public parks and residential communities through mobile applications.