China’s first-ever driverless taxi service hit the road this month for trials in a quiet part of the city of Guangzhou.
The technology behind these taxis is being provided by the local self-driving startup WeRide.ai. Each of the three vehicles come equipped with a laser radar for sensing the road, objects, and other vehicles, along with three cameras for sensing traffic lights.
As you would expect, developers are taking precautions during this trial run. The taxis are only in use for two hours a day when traffic is at its lowest in the city’s university town. In the driver seat of each vehicle sits a “safety supervisor” in case anything should go wrong.
Additionally, in the backseat, passengers are provided with a mechanical foot brake which they can stomp on if the vehicle’s autonomous electronic systems happen to malfunction.
In recent years, China has placed itself at the forefront of driverless technology. Last December, self-driving buses picked up and dropped off passengers on a test route in Shenzhen. Meanwhile, internet giant Baidu has been hard at work on its own autonomous vehicles and plans to soon roll out a fleet of driverless taxis in the Hunan capital of Changsha.