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China’s Beijing city loosens robotaxi rules for Baidu Apollo Go,


Chinese tech firms Baidu’s Apollo Go, and have announced that they were granted permission by Beijing authorities to take out the safety driver from their robotaxi operation in a suburb of Beijing.

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BEIJING — China’s capital city has moved one step closer toward letting ordinary people take robotaxis with no driver in them.

In a first for the country, two Chinese companies — Baidu‘s Apollo Go and — announced Thursday they received permission from Beijing city authorities to remove the safety driver for part of their robotaxi business in a suburban part of the city.

A staff member will need to be present in order for the cars to run, although not necessarily as the driver.

It’s a move toward letting the companies run a robotaxi business without having to pay for staff to man the cars — fully eliminating the cost of a taxi driver. The Chinese government has yet to allow robotaxis the ability to collect fares without human drivers.

Alphabet’s Waymo, GM’s subsidiary Cruise and Alphabet’s Waymo can both run public robotaxis in America without human operators. There are different laws for charging riders and testing robotaxis.

Waymo can charge customers for its robotaxis that operate in Arizona,Cruise still awaits approval for a permit to charge passengers in San Francisco.

Tu Le, founder and CEO of Beijing-based consultancy firm Sino Auto Insights pointed out that GM Cruise cannot operate its driverless robotic taxi service in San Francisco during the night. However, the most recent loosening in Beijing permits the almost driverless robotaxis operation throughout the day.

The Chinese operators would be able to obtain more data when there is higher traffic.

Baidu, which was granted a permit by Beijing, said that it is now allowed to operate 10 robotaxis vehicles without the need for safety drivers. It also plans on adding 30 additional such vehicles in the future. is able to operate the first four robotaxis with no safety drivers, according to the new rules. A spokesperson stated that they plan on adding more machines in the future.

Six months of busy work for China’s robotaxi rules changes

China has different rules for operating and testing robotaxis.

Beijing’s most recent move was made less than six years after and Baidu were allowed to enter the city. charge fees for robotaxis in the suburban district of Yizhuang.China’s first major city approved fares.

Baidu claimed that the Apollo Go robotic taxi business of Baidu began to charge fare in Chongqing, in southwest China. In February, Yangquan was smaller and more centrally located. These cars require safety drivers.

Sunday: Nansha, a district in the south of Guangzhou gave’s tech-powered robotaxis the same designation as traditional taxis — the first such license in China. This license allows to charge fare in the area. Safety drivers are currently installed in the cars.

— CNBC’s Michael WaylandContributed to the report.