Baidu, Pony.ai Get China’s Green Light to Charge for Robotaxis

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By Yifan Wang
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Chinese tech giant Baidu Inc. and Toyota Motor Corp.-backed startup Pony.ai Inc. has received China’s first regulator to start charging consumers for driverless ride-hailing services on open roads.

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The approval, given by the head office of the Beijing High-Level Automated Driving Demonstration Area, comes as global tech giants such as Alphabet Inc. and auto makers including General Motors Co. are racing to compete in the red-hot “robotaxi” market. ,

With the new permits, Baidu and Pony.ai will be able to charge for robotic taxi services offered to the public in a designated 60-square-kilometer area in southern Beijing.

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Baidu said its commercial robotic taxi service, known as Apollo Go, will include more than 600 pick-up and drop-off points in the Beijing district and will operate daily from 7 a.m. to 10 p.m.

Pony.ai said it has set up around 200 stations and will provide services from 8:30 am to 10.30 pm

Prior to this milestone towards commercialization, both companies were testing driverless taxi services for free across China.

Baidu shares in Hong Kong jumped after news from the commercial authority. The stock was recently up 4.8% at 152.90 Hong Kong dollars.

Write to Yifan Wang at [email protected]

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