What Coronavirus mean for the future of self-driving cars

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It’s 2025 and driverless cars still aren’t zooming around everywhere. Where are the chilled out passengers on their phones, or napping, as an invisible “driver” navigates a crowded intersection?

 They’re still mostly stuck in the backseat as a human driver shuttles them around. They’re likely in a highly automated and autonomous-capable vehicle, but a human is still there monitoring the machine. That doesn’t mean robo-vehicles aren’t on the road. Instead they’re working behind the scenes. They’re picking up our groceries, filling trucks with our endless online shopping purchases, and hauling crates of produce across the country.

The pandemic made us more comfortable with the idea of autonomous vehicles, but most industry experts still predict a slow transition to their widespread adoption in the U.S. When you’re avoiding exposure to a deadly disease, perhaps a driverless robotaxi, like the Waymo One service in suburban Phoenix, looks more attractive. But autonomous tech and testing regulations won’t accelerate just because of sudden mainstream acceptance and new social distancing norms.

Motional, the new brand from self-driving startup Aptiv and Hyundai, asked just over 1,000 U.S. adults in July about autonomous vehicle (AV) perception. More than 60 percent said AVs “are the way of the future.” A quarter of those surveyed said they are interested in experiencing the tech regularly. A year ago, the American Automobile Association (AAA) surveyed a similarly sized group of Americans and found 71 percent were afraid to ride in a self-driving car. (Note: How the two groups’ demographics compare is unknown.)

The next five years will likely continue to shift and refocus how we think about self-driving technology. While self-driving ride-shares won’t be the norm, more people will have experienced autonomy on the road. Motional CEO Karl Iagnemma thinks that by 2025, “if you haven’t taken a driverless journey you will know someone who has.”

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Didi Chuxing: Apple-backed firm aims for one million robotaxis

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Chinese ride-hailing firm Didi Chuxing says it plans to operate more than a million self-driving vehicles by 2030.

The robotaxis are to be deployed in places where ride-hailing drivers are less available, according to Meng Xing, Didi’s chief operating officer.

Mr Meng was speaking at an online conference hosted by the Hong Kong-based South China Morning Post newspaper.

One analyst suggested it was a very ambitious aim.

“I’ll be surprised if we see a million by 2030,” a spokesman for market research firm Canalys said.

“I hope that happens but there’s a lot to take place in meantime.”

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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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Cars could go completely driverless ‘very soon,’ says CEO of Chinese autonomous driving tech start-up

AutoX rolls out self-driving robotaxis in Shanghai’s ride-hailing market

 KEY POINTS

Despite current regulations and safety concerns over self-driving cars, the time that cars could really go driverless is coming “very soon,” according to Jianxiong Xiao, CEO and founder of AutoX, a start-up developing autonomous driving technology based in Shenzhen.

It had received approval from Shanghai authorities to roll out a fleet of 100 autonomous ride-hailing cars in Shanghai’s Jiading district in September last year.

Backed by investors such as Alibaba, Shanghai Motor and Dongfeng Motor, AutoX is one of the players in the multi-trillion U.S. dollar Chinese autonomous driving vehicles market alongside others like DiDi Chuxing.

The time that cars could go completely driverless is coming “very soon,” according to Jianxiong Xiao, CEO and founder of AutoX, a Shenzhen-based start-up developing autonomous driving technology.

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