Baidu won approval in November 2021 to charge fares for its robot taxi rides in the Beijing suburb of Yizhuang.
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BEIJING – China Technology Company Baidu said its robot taxi business in major cities is close to gaining the same traction with locals as traditional ride-hailing services.
During the third quarter, Baidu’s self-driving taxis each completed an average of more than 15 trips a day in Beijing, Shanghai and Guangzhou, CEO Robin Li said on Tuesday, according to a transcript of FactSet’s earnings call.
“To our knowledge, this number is quite close to the average daily ridership of traditional ride-hailing services,” Li said. He did not say how many cars were in each local fleet.
By comparison, trips per active vehicle on ride-sharing apps in New York averaged about 12 per day in September, according to latest municipal data available.
In Beijing, Shanghai and Guangzhou, Baidu’s robot axis – branded Apollo Go – can only operate in certain suburban areas.
The company did not say whether it can charge fares for its robotaxi rides in Guangzhou or Shanghai.
About 12 months ago, Baidu acquired The City of Beijing agrees to start charging fares for robotaxi rides in the district Yizhuang, about half an hour’s drive from the center of the capital.
These rides still require a human employee to sit in the car.
But this week, Baidu said it had received approval from local Beijing authorities to test 10 robotic axes without any human staff in the first place.
Pony.ai, a start-up that also operates a robotaxi business, said it had received similar approval.
Both companies’ robotaxi rides in Beijing’s Yizhuang district remain heavily subsidized. CNBC’s review of the Apollo Go and Pony.ai apps on Wednesday found more than 80% off.
Baidu has robotaxi operations in many cities in China and can charge fares in at least seven, according to the company.
Total robotaxi rides rose more than 300% year-over-year to more than 474,000 rides in the third quarter, the company said Tuesday.
When asked on the earnings call when Apollo Go would break even, the company said it believes the robotaxi will eventually be profitable and cheaper than current ride-hailing services, and that the impact on Baidu’s overall profit, loss and cash flow is “manageable.” .”