Chinese company unveils "Robotaxy" with detachable steering wheel

Chinese search engine giant and artificial intelligence company Baidu have unveiled their new self-driving car that has a detachable steering wheel, with plans to use it in its robotics service next year.

"The Apollo RT6 will reach the roads without a steering wheel once approved by the Chinese authorities," Baidu Vice President Li Chenwu said at a conference.

"The driving capability of an autonomous vehicle can match a skilled human driver with more than 20 years of experience," Chino added.

An all-electric vehicle costs 250,000 yuan (£31,000) per unit, compared to 480,000 yuan (£59,000) for the previous generation.

“This massive cost reduction will enable us to deploy tens of thousands of autonomous vehicles (AVs) across China, as we move toward a future where riding robots will be half the cost of riding a car,” Baidu CEO Robin Li said at the Baidu World 2022 technology conference. Today's fare."

The new car will have "Level 4 capabilities" that do not require human intervention, with 8 lids and 12 cameras alongside the car.

Baidu already operates Apollo Go, an autonomous passenger transportation service using self-driving automated taxis with safety staff sitting in the driver or passenger seat, and the service has operated more than 1 million trips across 10 Chinese cities since its launch in 2020.

Baidu said in April that it had received permission to deploy humanless driving seat robots on open roads in Beijing. China aspires to lead self-driving technology globally but lags behind the United States in providing such services.

Alphabet's Waymo began offering driverless taxi services in Phoenix, Arizona in 2020.

The company said it plans to roll out its fully autonomous vehicles in the United States in the coming years.

Tesla CEO Elon Musk said at a conference with investors in April that the company aims to start mass production of its robotaxi without a steering wheel or pedals in 2024, and expects a robotaxy ride to cost less than a bus ticket.


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