Baidu granted first permits for fully driverless road tests in Beijing

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Beijing transportation authorities have granted permission for five Baidu Apollo autonomous vehicles to conduct fully driverless road tests. The announcement makes Baidu the first and only company able to conduct driverless tests on the public streets of Beijing without a safety driver on board.

Beijing has the most stringent safety requirements for obtaining driverless testing permission in China. Published in November 2020, the requirements include obtaining T3 or higher testing ability, completing more than 30,000 kilometers (18,641 miles) of perfect test driving on open roads, and passing an evaluation on a closed track. Baidu has cleared each of these requirements, and has also developed the 5G Remote Driving Service to guarantee safety, meaning safety drivers can remotely take control of vehicles in the event of an emergency. 

The announcement underlines Baidus leading position in autonomous driving technology, with the company’s AI driving system now capable of independently operating vehicles in complex urban road conditions. 

The permits will enable Baidu to gradually reduce human intervention on test vehicles and eventually remove in-car safety drivers from its autonomous vehicle road tests.

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Saul Wordsworth is deputy-editor of TTI, and presenter and producer of The TTI Podcast. He is an author and keen cyclist, and lives in north London.