Chinese ride-hailing giant Didi Chuxing launches pilot self-driving robotaxi service in Shanghai

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Didi has raised US$500 million from Japan’s SoftBank for its autonomous driving subsidiary.

 Didi’s launch of robotaxis in Shanghai comes just days after it announced plans to deploy more than one million self-driving vehicles through its platform by 2030

Globally, the market is projected to be worth US$65.3 billion by 2027, according to a report from Market Research Future

Commuters in Shanghai can now book self-driving taxis through Didi Chuxing after the Chinese ride-hailing giant launched its on-demand robotaxi service on the weekend.

Using the new app, passengers can take free rides in autonomous vehicles within designated open-traffic areas in Shanghai’s Jiading District as part of the pilot phase of the project.

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Self-driving taxis roll out in Shanghai

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A man holds a door to a Didi self-driving car during last month’s World Artificial Intelligence Conference (WAIC) in Shanghai. Picture: REUTERS

Ride-hailing giant Didi Chuxing plans to start using self-driving vehicles to pick up passengers in Shanghai and hopes to expand the scheme outside China by 2021.

Local authorities in Shanghai last week issued licences — the first in China — for operational tests of smart and connected cars with passengers in them, that would pave the way for commercial robotaxis in the future.

The licences were given to car-hailing ride service Didi Chuxing as well as to car manufacturer SAIC Motor and BMW that allow them to conduct autonomous driving projects in real urban scenarios.

Each of the three companies are permitted to run 50 vehicles for pilot programs including robotaxis, unmanned deliveries and other autonomous driving services. The licence holders can increase the number of test vehicles after six months if there are no traffic violations.

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