Self-driving robots set to hit China streets

Image copyright Getty Images Image caption The move from autonomous driving to driverless Uber cars is a big step for the tech industry Self-driving robotaxis are set to begin picking up passengers in China,…

Self-driving robots set to hit China streets

Image copyright Getty Images Image caption The move from autonomous driving to driverless Uber cars is a big step for the tech industry

Self-driving robotaxis are set to begin picking up passengers in China, as part of a competition between a robotaxis company and a software firm.

Qiao Xing Robotaxis is starting to test its autonomous driving technology on two buses in the eastern Chinese city of Nanjing.

It intends to expand its driverless taxi fleet to 5,000 vehicles by 2020.

The move comes as more automakers plan to replace human drivers with robotic technology.

Enlarge Image Jeff J Mitchell/Getty Images

Qiao Xing said it planned to have 15,000 driverless cars operating around 60 cities in the country by 2025.

The company, backed by tech giants Tencent and Baidu, hopes to avoid technical glitches that have plagued some driversless cars, and said it would retain its human drivers until its customer base reached more than 1 million.

“We’re strengthening our partnerships with small tech firms to transfer their latest technology so that we can apply it in more vehicles,” Qijing Wang, head of internet-of-things business at Qiao Xing, told Reuters news agency.

“We’re looking for close partnerships with carriers.”

Later this year, Los Angeles-based Peloton Technology expects to have a driverless test car on the road, with fully self-driving cars made by the company on the horizon.

Are the robots now taking over?

Uber

Image copyright Reuters Image caption Uber said earlier this year that driverless cars are set to roll out in 2019

Uber has hinted that it is working on its own driverless cars , though it has not disclosed what form they will take.

It has applied for a licence to test driverless cars in California, but recently withdrew that application after a legal dispute with the state’s authorities.

Google

Google announced last month that its Waymo autonomous car division has completed its first autonomous lap around the clock.

Enlarge Image Wikipedia

“We want to show that we know what we’re doing here, and that we can build a modern self-driving system with the right technology, tested on a wide range of roads, climates and terrains,” Waymo said in a blog post.

It added that it hoped the experience would help it deploy the technology in people’s cars, “offering greater control to the driver and, ultimately, consumer choice”.

The program is important for Alphabet Inc’s Waymo, which makes cars for its search engine subsidiary, because it is developing an autonomous vehicle so that drivers don’t have to work.

Waymo believes it will be able to “complete a lap of our two fleet members driving autonomously within just a few days”.

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