Beijing has approved the first commercial operation of autonomous driving services without in-car safety supervisors. Two ride-hailing platforms, operated by Chinese tech giant Baidu and autonomous vehicle startup Pony.ai, have been given the green light after a three-month pilot program on public roads. (via Reuters)
The program included testing the vehicles’ ability to handle complex scenarios, such as intersections, narrow roadways, and extreme weather conditions, including rain, snow, and sandstorms.
Previously, safety supervisors were required to be present in the driver’s, passenger’s, or second-row seats during road tests and commercial operations. However, with this new permit, Baidu and Pony.ai are allowed to provide fully driverless rides without a safety supervisor in a 60-square-kilometer area of the Beijing Economic-Technological Development Area.
Residents will be able to summon driverless cars without safety supervisors inside via the respective mobile apps. These cars can take passengers to various destinations, such as subway stations, key commercial areas, public parks, and residential communities. This is a significant milestone for the autonomous driving industry and a sign of Beijing’s commitment to promoting the development of the technology.