Customers in Shanghai will soon be able to hail an “AutoX RoboTaxi” — that’s right, a driverless AI ride-hailing service — through the Amap smartphone app.
The service is a unique collaboration between partners AutoX, Inc. and Amap Co. Ltd. (a.k.a. AutoNavi, Gaode, or 高德) to bring self-driving vehicles onto China’s ride-hailing network for commercial service.
This marks the first time in China that a RoboTaxi service has become available on a major ride-hailing platform, and Shanghai is the first city to be launched.
As a rider enters their pickup and dropoff locations, the app lists all vehicles that can fulfill the request, including AutoX RoboTaxis. Riders can then choose to request both autonomous vehicles and regular human-driving vehicles at the same time, and the app’s algorithm will choose the vehicle with the earliest arrival time.
“The seamless combination of autonomous and human-driving fleets is crucial for the adoption and commercialization of self-driving technology,” says AutoX CEO Dr. Jianxiong Xiao, often called “Professor X.”
“The service area of autonomous vehicles is an ever-increasing yet geo-fenced region, and the fleet size takes time to grow. This combination is a must-have for an autonomous driving company to be able to provide a truly useful service for all riders.”
Unlike other self-driving cars that can only stop at fixed stations, AutoX’s self-driving vehicles can pick up and drop off passengers at any location requested, the company said.
AutoX also offers the first self-driving taxi service in China that can reach the maximum speed of 80 km/h on non-highway city streets. In consideration of Covid-19, AutoX has streamlined the identity confirmation and ride starting process to be completely touchless.
AutoX vehicles are also connected to Shanghai’s state of the art 5G-based V2X technology to communicate with road infrastructure such as traffic lights to obtain additional sources of information proactively.
AutoX’s RoboTaxi service is the first real-world application of Shanghai’s V2X infrastructure, recently built as part of China’s national New Infrastructure Initiative.
From April 27 onwards, AutoX and Amap will start accepting early riders and will offer a joint promotion of free rides for the upcoming Labor Day holiday in May. RoboTaxi will be open to the general public immediately after the initial trial with early riders.
Amap is China’s largest mobility platform. In 2017, it launched the first mobility aggregation service in the country, allowing users to hail from over 40 ride-hailing companies at the same time. Data from QuestMobile shows that Amap had 478 million monthly active users in March 2020.
AutoX is a tech company developing AI drivers for autonomous driving vehicles, with a mission of “democratizing autonomy” to provide universal access to transportation of people and goods.
The company was founded in 2016 by Dr. Jianxiong Xiao, a self-driving technologist from MIT and Princeton University. AutoX’s team of engineers and scientists have extensive industry experience in autonomous vehicles.
Headquartered in Shenzhen, AutoX has eight offices and five R&D centers globally.