3 September 2019
Chinese ride-hailing company Didi to start robo-taxi pilots in Shanghai
Joining American rivals Lyft and Uber, China’s ride-hailing leader Didi is set to start its first pilots of autonomous taxis. Didi has been awarded a permit for testing autonomous vehicles in street-operation by the city of Shanghai. Didi, after buying out competitor Uber’s Chinese operations in August 2016, the company has established a firm position in its home market and branched out to foreign regions such as Mexico as well as investing in numerous Uber rivals in other markets, including Estonia’s Taxify. Now the Chinese ride-hailer is moving into another area of the developing industry which Uber and its American rival Lyft have made tentative entries into, that of autonomous vehicles. Uber, following a fatal accident in March 2018, has scaled back its initially ambitious self-driving pilots while Lyft continues to operate robotaxis in Las Vegas.
Didi will begin with a fleet of Level 4 autonomous vehicles (operating within a defined geographical region with no human intervention) which includes 30 different models of vehicles and operate the service via Didi’s app.The rides will be free of charge to customers during the robotaxi project. Didi plans to expand these pilots to take its robotaxis beyond the Jiading District, home of this first pilot, by 2021.