Taxi services

Some self-driving taxi services lose safety driver in Beijing

Two companies developing self-driving cars in China were given permission last week to remove the safety driver from behind the wheel for the first time.

The clearance was granted by officials in Beijing to tech giant Baidu and Toyota-backed self-driving tech startup Pony.ai, and only applies to an area of ​​about 23 square miles. .

According to CNBCa member of staff must remain in the vehicle, but not necessarily behind the wheel.

Baidu, which has operated a self-driving taxi service in Beijing for a year, has been allowed to operate 10 so-called robotaxis without safety drivers, while Pony.ai has permission to operate four. Both companies plan to increase the number in the near future, although neither company is allowed to charge for a car ride without a safety driver at this time.

Back in the US, Alphabet’s Waymo has been offering its Waymo One service in parts of Phoenix, Arizona for a few years. Waymo One also operates without an onboard safety driver, and Waymo is currently considering expanding the service to San Francisco, where its robotaxis are already operating, but for now only for staff members.

General Motors and Honda-backed Honda Cruise also have robotaxis operating in San Francisco without a safety driver. Cruise allowed members of the public to sign up for his service, but did not say when the service will officially begin.