web stats

Baidu’s robotaxis face backlash from Wuhan taxi drivers

Baidu’s robotaxis face backlash from Wuhan taxi driversLegacy

Baidu’s fleet of over 500 autonomous taxis (robotaxis) in Wuhan is rapidly attracting customers, despite backlash from locals and taxi drivers. The Apollo Go service, which launched in August 2022, has become so popular in this city of 13.7 million that local taxi drivers are now urging the municipal transport authority to limit its use.

In late June, Wuhan Jianshe Automotive Passenger Transportation sent a letter to government officials, alleging that four of its 159 taxis had ceased operations since April due to decreasing revenues. The company accused the robotaxis of taking jobs from the grassroots.

Baidu did not provide a comment. However, in May, the company reported several cases of misinformation about Apollo Go circulating on social media to the police, resulting in over 10 arrests.

Head of Baidu’s Intelligent Driving Group, Wang Yunpeng, revealed in an internal letter in April that the company’s autonomous-driving project, which has been a significant financial investment for years, is now aiming for profitability.

Baidu plans to expand the Apollo Go fleet in Wuhan to 1,000 vehicles and aims to break even locally by the end of this year, according to Chen Zhuo, general manager of Baidu’s self-driving unit.

Wuhan, heavily invested in driverless technology, is a national leader in allowing urban areas to host robotaxi services. The city brands itself as the world’s largest autonomous driving operation service region.

Other cities like Shenzhen and Shanghai have also permitted robotaxis in select areas, though not on the same scale as Wuhan. Baidu aims to replicate Wuhan’s success in other cities, with plans to introduce Apollo Go in 100 cities by the end of this decade.

Passenger feedback for Apollo Go has generally been positive, achieving an average rating of 4.9 out of 5 in service quality. However, the fleet has been the subject of over 300 complaints on a government-operated transport management website, with citizens alleging that the taxis respond too slowly to traffic lights.

A minor collision involving a Baidu robotaxi and an electric scooter earlier this week has further raised safety concerns. The accident resulted in a scratch on the Apollo Go vehicle after the scooter ran a red light.

The scooter driver, who was immediately taken to the hospital, did not suffer any serious injuries and is currently under medical observation. An Apollo Go representative stated that the company is cooperating with the police investigation, reported Bangkok Post.

The story Baidu’s robotaxis face backlash from Wuhan taxi drivers as seen on Thaiger News.

About admin