Didi launches robotaxi service in Shanghai
Chinese ride-hailing giant Didi Chuxing, backed by SoftBank Group, launched a test robotaxi service in Shanghai’s Jiading suburb on Saturday after installing V2X (Vehicle to Everything) hardware throughout the area.
Under the test, customers within a designated area will be able to hire free on-demand rides using Didi’s autonomous vehicles, which currently also have safety drivers, the company said.
V2X enables autonomous vehicles to communicate with their surroundings and Didi has installed equipment at major junctions within the test area to minimize safety blind spots and coordinate communication among its fleet, it said.
The equipment will mainly be used by Didi’s own cars, although cars operated by other autonomous driving companies could also link up to the system, said Meng Xing, the chief operating officer of Didi’s autonomous driving unit.
A broader rollout of V2X equipment to improve the use autonomous vehicles would require coordination with government, Meng said.
Didi chief executive Cheng Wei said the company expected greater use of artificial intelligence to revolutionise safety and efficiency of the urban transit system.
However, it would take at least a decade of continued investment before autonomous vehicle technology passed critical technology, business and regulatory milestones, he said in a statement.