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You can now catch a fully driverless taxi in one part of China

The driverless taxis are preparing for the Beijing Winter Olympics.

Image: Baidu

We hear a lot about the American companies working on self-driving cars, but they’re not the only ones working on the tech. Baidu, China’s main search engine, has also been working on self-driving tech, and now it’s rolling out the first paid autonomous vehicle service in China, called Apollo Go.

The first area to benefit from the self-driving taxis? Beijing’s Shougang Park which is going to be one of the venues for the 2022 Beijing Winter Olympics.

Until the Games, they’ll be shuttling around the public, between eight predestined pickup points, spread out over about a square mile. Once the Games is in full swing, the autonomous shuttles will also be carrying athletes and their coaching staff to and from events.

Baidu is also testing self-driving taxis in multiple other areas, and has permits for many other areas to operate with safety drivers onboard, much like Waymo’s operations in the US. Baidu’s vehicles have completed 10 million kilometers of road testing to date, on a similar scale to its US counterpart.

Those self-driving vehicles will also be puttering around Sunnyvale, California, as Baidu has permits to test on US soil. At least, permits for now. US policymakers seem to be keeping their hands off the wheel with regulations or laws, preferring to see which way the carmakers turn before putting any new road laws into effect.

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