Baidu robot taxi can drive without a steering wheel, car price reduced

On July 21, 2022, Baidu unveiled the sixth generation of its on-call unmanned electric vehicle at a price nearly 50% lower than the model announced last year.

Baidu

BEIJING – Chinese tech giant Baidu announced on Thursday that it has cut the prices of its self-driving cars by nearly half, cutting costs for the nascent business.

The new car, the Apollo RT6, is an electric vehicle that costs 250,000 yuan (about $37,313) to produce without relying on a third-party manufacturer, Baidu said. This price is 48% less than The production cost of Apollo Moon was announced last year at 480,000 yuan. made in partnership with state-owned BAIC Group’s Arcfox electric vehicle brand.

The Apollo RT6 is due to begin road service in China in the second half of next year as part of Baidu’s unmanned robot taxi business.

The company’s robotic taxi division, called Apollo Go, received an award from the city of Beijing. approval in November to start collecting tolls in a suburban area. However, the human employee must still sit in the car.

City authorities eased restrictions in April on whether an employee should sit in the driver’s seat, paving the way for the total elimination of taxi driver costs. It remains unclear when the Chinese government will allow robot taxis to charge for rides without people in the vehicles.

We are moving towards a future where a robot taxi will cost half as much as a taxi today.

Baidu said the company intends to produce 100,000 Apollo RT6 vehicles over an indefinite period of time.

“This significant cost reduction will allow us to deploy tens of thousands of [autonomous driving vehicles] throughout China,” said Baidu co-founder and CEO Robin Li. “We are moving towards a future where robot taxis are half the price they are today.”

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According to the company, Apollo Go operates in 10 cities in China and plans to cover 65 cities by 2025 and 100 cities by 2030.

In addition to Baidu, startups such as Pony.ai as well as We go testing robotaxis in China.

To expand in China, companies need to test robot taxis and obtain licenses in every city they want to operate in, Eleanor Leung, managing director of Asian Telecoms and Internet Research at CLSA, told CNBC earlier this week.

Until cities recognize each other’s test results, robot taxi companies will have to raise more money to test more cars in different cities, she said.