Baidu wins commercial licence for driverless taxis in Shenzhen

By Josh Ye

HONG KONG (Reuters) -China’s tech firm Baidu Inc said on Friday that it has obtained a commercial licence from regulators for its driverless ride-hailing service in parts of Shenzhen, the country’s tech hub.

Its fleet of driverless robotaxis, under the brand Apollo Go, will be allowed to operate and collect fares from passengers across an area of 188 square km (116.82 square miles) in Shenzhen, the company said.

Baidu first brought self-driving cars to Shenzhen in 2022 but its cars then were not allowed to go on the roads without human supervisors onboard. Its fleet was also prohibited from collecting fares from passengers.

Baidu has obtained licences from three other Chinese cities including Wuhan, Chongqing and Beijing to offer fully driverless service there. But in Beijing, the company is still waiting for a commercial licence.

Baidu also said it plans to put an additional 200 fully driverless robotaxis on the road this year.

(Reporting by Josh Ye; editing by Jason Neely and Louise Heavens)