SHANGHAI -- Chinese tech group Baidu Inc. and self-driving startup Pony.ai have won approval to launch paid driverless robotaxi services that will see the companies deploy not more than 100 vehicles in an area in China's capital Beijing.
The state-backed Beijing Daily newspaper reported on the approvals on Thursday, citing a ceremony held by the Beijing Economic and Technological Development Zone, where the 60 square kilometre-large area (23 square miles) is located.
Baidu said in a statement the approval will herald its Apollo Go service's first commercial deployment on open roads.
Customers will be able to hail one of the daily service's 67 cars at more than 600 pick-up and drop-off points in both commercial and residential areas, it said. It will charge fares similar to the level of premium ride-hailing services in China, a Baidu spokesperson added.
Pony.ai, backed by Toyota Motor Corp., also confirmed that it had received the approval for its Xiaoma Zhixing service from Beijing on its official Weibo account.