Written by Staff Writer
A new line of self-driving taxis is on the verge of rolling out in China, underlining the country’s relentless drive to leapfrog and even bypass the Western world when it comes to cutting-edge tech.
The government-backed Sichuan Metropolitan Public Transport Corp. (SMPM) has partnered with Chinese startup XPeng Auto to test out a fleet of autonomous taxis later this year.
The company’s taxis will soon be driving autonomously in Chengdu, with plans to expand to other cities over the coming years.
XPeng Auto claims to be China’s first ride-hailing service specializing in self-driving cars.
XPeng claims to be China’s first ride-hailing service specializing in self-driving cars, with 4,000 new self-driving cars on the road by 2020.
By 2021, at least 1 million autonomous vehicles will be on the road in China, the company says.
“We are confident that XPeng Auto’s self-driving platform can fulfill the requirements of the world’s most sophisticated cities,” the company says on its website.
“Shenzhen, Shanghai, Beijing, Dalian and Shanghai are among the top 10 cities in the world for urban infrastructure investment, so our focus is on getting ride-hailing service providers to adapt to these cities and not pressure ourselves to operate in the West.
“Our focus is in China and growing the market here.”
By 2017, the figure was closer to 100,000 autonomous vehicles — a combination of cars and trucks — on China’s roads, according to market research company Navigant Research.
“The scale is comparatively low, but the growth rate is very high,” said research analyst Rob Enderle.
“There is greater acceptance of fully automated technology by taxi fleets.
“Cities like Shanghai and Chengdu are transitioning to autonomous cities and realizing the importance of autonomous vehicles in relieving congestion and improving safety.”
XPeng, based in Chengdu, was founded in 2012 with financing from the Chinese government to commercialize a driverless vehicle technology developed by tech giant Shenzhen-based 7 Darts — the company behind the 7-Darts self-driving minivan.
The company has completed more than 1 million miles of testing on conventional cars with minimal human input, according to XPeng’s website.
There’s no denying China is a driving force in self-driving cars.
The country’s vast scale and complex traffic situation makes it a suitable testing ground for self-driving cars, says Navigant.
Meanwhile, China is pouring billions of dollars into developing autonomous cars to cut its notorious car accident rate.
China currently stands at the top of the chart for developing autonomous driving technology.
–Check out another CNNMoney article on how China will “ban’ using your smartphone while driving.