SHANGHAI, March 17 (Reuters) – Baidu (9888.HK), and Pony.ai said on Friday they have won permits to provide fully driverless ride-hailing services in the Chinese capital of Beijing.
Baidu’s Apollo service will deploy 10 fully autonomous vehicles in a technology park developed by the government of Beijing, the Chinese ride-hailing giant said in a statement.
The permit marks a step forward from December, when Baidu said it had been granted a license to test the service. Baidu will now operate driverless robotaxi services in three Chinese cities including Wuhan and Chongqing.
The vehicles will not have humans in the driving seat nor safety operators.
Beijing-headquartered Baidu, which generates most of its revenue from its internet search engine, has been focused on self-driving technologies over the past five years as it looks to diversify.
Pony.ai, backed by Toyota Motor (7203.T) said in a separate statement that it had also received such a permit from Beijing city. It already operates a robotaxi service in the southern city of Gaungzhou.
Reporting by Eduardo Baptista and Brenda Goh; Editing by Muralikumar Anantharaman and Lincoln Feast.