Want to ride a robotaxi? Here’s where that’s actually possible
Among the things my generation has been promised, I’m especially excited about the rise of robotaxis.
Sadly, they aren’t yet flooding the streets, as we expected or wished for. Regulatory approvals aren’t that easy to get, and the tech is still facing some hurdles.
But don’t despair just yet — there are indeed some places around the world where you can actually take a ride with an AI driver.
For now, the major players are operating in the US and China. So unless you already reside in the areas listed below, the only thing you can do is book a flight.
Phoenix, Arizona: Since 2020, Alphabet’s Waymo has been offering fully driverless services to the public in the Phoenix Metro area. You can use the accompanying app to hail the Waymo One robotaxi and pay for the ride.
San Francisco, California: Again Waymo, has been giving free autonomous rides as part of its Trusted Tester program since last August. Now it’s ready to remove safety drivers, although it hasn’t announced a specific date.
There’s also Cruise that’s debuting its robotaxi services in the area. The company announced in January that it’s going to offer free rides in the city, and opened a public waitlist for those who want to join.
Both companies need to obtain permits from the state to start collecting fares.
Beijing: Baidu’s Apollo Go and Pony.ai have both been operating autonomous ride-hailing services in China’s capital, in the Yizhuang zone. The companies are charging fares for the rides, having obtained a commercial license in November 2021, making Beijing one of the two Chinese cities with commercial paid services.
Guangzhou: Here available robotaxis are operated by Baidu’s Apollo Go, Pony.ai, and WeRide.ai, which has collaborated with government-owned Baijum Taxi Group and, thus, has managed to charge passengers at Guangzhou’s taxi rate from the outset.
Shanghai: The city hosts various robotaxi services, including Apollo Go, Pony.ai., Alibaba-backed AutoX, and ride-hailing giant Didi. All these companies presently offer their rides for free.
Shenzhen: Didi began operating robotaxis in some areas of the city in July 2020, followed by AutoX in January 2021, and Deeproute.ai in July, which has been deploying its vehicles in the Futian district, close to its headquarters.
Wuhan: Deeproute and WeRide.ai are offering free rides in their autonomous vehicles.
Chongqing, Changsha, and Cangzhou: Baidu’s Apollo Go is the only service available for now.
We will continue updating the article with the new emerging places and companies.