Last month, autonomous driving technology developer AutoX deployed a fully driverless test of robotaxis on the roads of Shenzhen, the “Silicon Valley of China,” though the service hadn’t yet been available to the public — until now.
On Jan. 28, Alibaba-backed AutoX allowed the public to book a completely autonomous robotaxi in Shenzhen without a safety driver or remote operators.
This video shows a portion of an AutoX robotaxi journey on busy public roads in Shenzen. The autonomous vehicle (AV), a Chrysler Pacifica minivan, negotiates hazards that would panic a driving school student in a non-automated vehicle. At about the five-minute mark, the AV navigates an “unprotected” left turn from an intersection into busy city traffic — without a traffic signal.
AutoX has been conducting driverless tests since mid-2020 with driverless robotaxis in Shenzen and Shanghai, in which passengers can use Alibaba's ride-hailing app to hail an AutoX ride.
AutoX said in a statement it has set up the first fully driverless robotaxi operations center in Shenzhen to support its program. As part of the regulatory approval process per the Shenzhen Pingshan government, all AVs must go through government-designated autonomous vehicle testing at the city’s self-driving test center before deploying to the public.
Last July, AutoX became the third autonomous technology company to receive a fully driverless permit from the California Dept. of Motor Vehicles. Those California permits now include five companies: AutoX, Zoox, Alphabet’s Waymo, Nuro, and GM-backed Cruise.
In December 2020, Cruise started fully driverless tests in densely populated downtown San Francisco, though the service isn’t open to the public. In October, Waymo started opening its fully driverless service to the public in Phoenix in a phased approach.