Self-Driving Cars for the Chinese Public

Baidu’s Apollo program has announced a self-driving car test in Changsha, Hunan, China, that is open to the general public. The program features 45 self-driving L4 Hongqi EV vehicles, the result of a joint partnership with FAW Group.

It’s always a little hard to know exactly what’s happening in China, because the non-Chinese press struggles with both access and language. The articles I’ve read use phrases like, “debuted”, “are being released”, and “kicked off”. Sounds like the program is already underway?

There is a human safety driver onboard, of course, and the geofence is limited to about 30 miles, although Baidu intends to expand.

Self-driving car deployments are trickling out, albeit not quite as fast as many of us had hoped. Opening up programs to the general public, as opposed to a limited and pre-screened group, is a big step forward.

I’m excited that Baidu is doing this. And I would love to see a video or writeup of what it’s like.

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