As the world inches closer to the reality of fully autonomous vehicles, Tom Campbell, an expat from the UK, filled with a mixture of anxiety and anticipation, went on a journey in a fully autonomous taxi developed by Pony.ai in a designated area in Yizhuang, a southern suburb of Beijing.
Last month, authorities in Beijing granted permits to eligible companies including Pony.ai to operate driverless taxis without safety supervisors on board and to charge passengers for the rides, marking a step forward in the commercialization of intelligent transportation.
The 60-square-kilometer pilot area in Yizhuang is expected to gradually expand to an area of 500 sq km for commercial operation.
The car developed by Pony.ai, equipped with a lidar, a radar, and cameras, effortlessly maneuvered through the bustling streets. As it approached a red light, the vehicle's AI sensibly adjusted its pace, mirroring human-like predictions of pedestrians' behavior. The surrounding environment was meticulously represented on the onboard screen, providing real-time updates of the road, nearby vehicles, and even pedestrians.
From cautious skepticism to unwavering trust, this experience has been eye-opening, said Tom. The rapid advancement of AI in China is astonishing, and its implications for the global automotive industry are immense.