DiDi Robotaxi Service Begins Operation in Shanghai

Passengers will be able to request on-demand autonomous rides via the DiDi app (Source: Didi)

Didi Chuxing’s on-demand robotaxi service will start picking up riders in Shanghai, China this week. Starting from June 27, upon sign-up through the main DiDi app, passengers may start requesting on-demand rides using autonomous vehicles within a designated open-traffic area that covers Shanghai’s Automobile Exhibition Center, local business districts, subway stations and hotels within downtown Shanghai.

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In addition to on-board mandatory safety drivers to help in emergencies, DiDi is also supporting the pilot project with a safety control center, the first of its kind in China, for real-time monitoring of vehicle and road conditions and enhanced remote command assistance which will be able to handle larger-scale autonomous fleet operations in the future. Key V2X hardware is deployed at main junctions within the test area to facilitate coordination among fleets and minimize safety blind spots.

“We will start with a mixed dispatch model that breaks out current geo-fence limitations,” said Bob Zhang Bo, CTO of DiDi and CEO of the autonomous driving unit. “Autonomous driving needs to move beyond being a novel but limited experience to become a reliable and efficient daily mobility option for the general public in highly complex real-world environment.”

DiDi’s autonomous driving subsidiary, now with a staff of over 400, was launched in 2016, and now holds testing licenses in the state of California in the USA and key cities in China including Beijing, Shanghai and Suzhou.