Chinese self-driving car tech company AutoX, has announced the launch of its human-less Robotaxi in downtown Shenzhen, with a fleet of 25 unmanned vehicles.
This marks the first time that any autonomous driving cars are operating on public roads in China without safety drivers or remote operators. According to AutoX, the vehicles are self-operational, but programmed to immediately come to a stop if they encounter a confusing situation. A remote operator then provides high level guidance on how to proceed.
Backed by Alibaba, MediaTek, and Shanghai Motors, the four-year-old startup has said that the vehicles are not yet open to the public, reported TechCrunch.
The development comes just five months after AutoX received a permit from California to begin conducting driverless tests on its roads.
This indicates China’s ambitious plans to bring its smart driving industry on par with the U.S. Several cities, including Shenzhen and Shanghai have been aggressively easing regulatory hurdles, offering subsidies and ramping up 5G infrastructure to attract autonomous driving upstarts.
So far, Waymo has been the only company to be able to address the necessary risks and liabilities of no-driver operation. Having begun its services in 2018, Waymo has temporarily made all of its rides passenger-only, during the ongoing Covid-19 pandemic.
Following in its footsteps, reports suggest that AutoX is expected to soon publish a safety report to demonstrate the capabilities of its vehicles, and address all concerns regarding the removal of safety drivers.