The City of Shanghai will soon get the first self-driving taxi service.
AutoX, a company with headquarters in Shenzhen, began its journey to democratize autonomous driving in 2016. That was, at least, the dream of its founder Xiao Jianxiong a.k.a. Professor X. His firm partnered with Alibaba this April, which undoubtedly gave them a big push.
Meanwhile, AutoX marked its first significant step in the autonomous driving market with the public launch of its RoboTaxi service in Shangai. The service will be made available in the Jiading District, along with 100 more RoboTaxis awaiting deployment soon.
The RoboTaxi program is the first autonomous ride-hailing service available in a major city. If everything goes well, it might enable AutoX to get a sharp edge over its competitor, Didi, another self-driving Taxi service.
AutoX partnered with the City of Shanghai towards commercializing the RoboTaxi program at the WAIC (World Artificial Intelligence Conference). And with Alibaba backing them up, AutoX services can now be booked via the AutoNavi App.
How to book a RoboTaxi?
Like any other modern Taxi service like Uber, RoboTaxi has an accompanying app. The users only need to input their pick-up and drop-off location details.
The system soon recognizes and deploys an AutoX RoboTaxi from the nearest fleet. The vehicle will then drive itself to the pick-up point. Subsequently, upon a QR code confirmation, it will drive you to your destination.
With safety being the priority, the RoboTaxi will also utilize a safety driver until the testing phase is over. The human will overlook the entire trip and, if necessary, take over control from the AI if needed.
Customers can keep track of the ride on their smartphones. The app will provide passengers with turn-by-turn navigation and driving decisions the vehicle makes.
“Seamless combination of autonomous and human-driving fleets is a crucial step for the adoption and commercialization of self-driving technology,” — stated Professor X
The technology behind the autonomous taxi service
AutoX vehicles utilize solid-state LiDar, radar, HD cameras, a processor, and Data services. That works along-side with state-of-the-art Level 4 autonomous AI solution, which the company simply calls “AI Driver.” This system integrates the hardware components with AI software.
AutoX developed AI software using real-time and hybrid simulation data. The company stated that it collected the data through diverse and challenging traffic scenarios. Moreover, they added that the system continues to receive data from autonomous vehicles, which further evolves and improves the artificial intelligence system.
The system still has some limitations, though. Mainly, it’s the rigidity towards pick-up and drop locations, and lower speeds when compared to human-driving.
AutoX might soon see its technology deployed to U.S. roads as well. The California Department of Motor Vehicles granted the company permission for public road testing of autonomous cars. With approval in the U.S., AutoX plans on widening its range of service globally.