Alibaba-backed AutoX, a developer of Level 4 fully autonomous cars, or “robotaxis”, now claims to operate “China’s largest autonomous driving area”.
The total area covers 1,000 square kilometers, including a 168-square-kilometer fully driverless zone. AutoX robotaxis are able to navigate all the public roads inside the 1,000 square kilometer area.
Expanding the total autonomous driving area to over 1,000 square kilometers is an important step towards making the robotic taxi service a reality in the daily lives of people in China.
Top-tier cities in China, including Shenzhen, Beijing, Shanghai, and Guangzhou, are large in terms of area.
To be able to achieve the status of a real service in these metropolitan cities, the autonomous driving area needs to cover the majority of a city to be truly useful for RoboTaxi riders.
Instead of operating on just a few fixed routes and stations like other robotaxis services in China, AutoX covers all the public roads within its robotaxis service area, including all the smaller and more congested streets, main streets, and highways.
This is another prerequisite for a useful and practical robotaxis service, says AutoX.
AutoX has released a new video of its fully autonomous robotaxis navigating the expanded service area (see below).
The vehicle can be seen driving fully autonomously through the commercial center and highways of Shenzhen and finally arriving at the Shenzhen international airport, for a total of almost six hours without any disengagement.
In the day-to-night video, the autonomous ride starts without a safety driver in the vehicle and navigates through the busiest commercial districts of Shenzhen (the Central Business District) during peak rush hour.
When the robotaxis exits the fully driverless zone, a safety driver gets into the driver’s seat as required by local policies. Throughout the video, the RoboTaxi remains in fully autonomous mode.
Service areas for robotaxis, often dubbed Objective Design Domain or “ODD” by the industry, are zones where robotaxis can safely provide service.
AutoX’s robotaxis operate day and night, through rain or fog, and on all public roads in Shenzhen’s 1,000 square kilometers service area.
Since January 2021, AutoX has been offering a fully driverless RoboTaxi service to the public. After one year of operation, the service area in Shenzhen has gradually expanded to become the largest fully driverless robotaxis zone in China.
AutoX says it is continuing to expand its fully driverless service area inside the total autonomous driving zone.