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A woman takes a self-driving taxi at an appointed location on the Daoxianghu Road in Haidian District of Beijing, capital of China, October 14, 2020. /Xinhua
Chinese tech giant Baidu announced on Monday that it has increased the commercial operation hours and area of its driverless taxi service in Wuhan, central China.
A new phase in the commercial use of autonomous driving in China has begun with the company's autonomous ride-hailing platform Apollo Go's introduction of robotaxis at night in Wuhan.
Currently, with over 50 fully driverless taxis in operation, Apollo Go has an operation area covering more than 130 square km in Wuhan. Meanwhile, the operation time in Junshan New City in Wuhan Economic and Technological Development Zone has been expanded to run from 7 a.m. to 11 p.m. to meet the needs of citizens' nighttime travel.
The nighttime environment has always been one of the key technical difficulties in autonomous driving technology as it's hard for vehicles to judge obstacles and pedestrians in dim light.
Baidu has launched a pilot service on Apollo Go in various Chinese cities such as Beijing, Shanghai, Guangzhou, and Shenzhen.
WeRide driverless minibus serves passengers in Guangzhou City, south China's Guangdong Province, January 7, 2022. /CFP
China promotes self-driving tech
In recent years, China has rolled out a series of policies to promote the development and commercialization of self-driving technology.
This May, Chinese self-driving car company WeRide announced that it is co-developing a new generation of its advanced driver assistance system (ADAS) with Bosch, aiming for delivery in late 2023.
Pony.ai self-driving car drives on a road in Beijing, China, May 16, 2021. /CFP
Self-driving tech start-up Pony.ai also said in July that it plans to mass produce autonomous driving trucks in China with equipment manufacturing giant Sany Heavy Industry.
(With input from Xinhua)