Alibaba-Backed Autonomous Driving Firm AutoX Takes Driving Tests in Shenzhen Urban Villages
AutoX, an Alibaba-backed autonomous driving firm based in China, released a new video on Monday showcasing how its fully driverless robotaxis handle the rush hour conditions of China’s “urban villages” in the autonomous driving challenge.
Founded in 2016 by Dr. Jianxiong Xiao, AutoX has since deployed more than 100 robotaxis in Shanghai, Shenzhen and a range of other cities. Headquartered in Shenzhen, the company operates eight offices and five R&D centers globally. In January, AutoX launched China’s first fully driverless robotaxi service to offer rides to the public without accompanying safety drivers.
In the video, an AutoX fully driverless robotaxi cautiously navigates its way around crowds of pedestrians and pets, bikers, scooters and roadside food stalls during evening rush hour in a Shenzhen urban village.
A unique characteristic of Chinese cities, urban villages are ultra high-density residential neighborhoods within major cities. Public roads in urban villages are extremely busy, chaotic and overcrowded, especially in the early evening.
In one tense scene, the robotaxi maneuvers through a narrow lane that is only wide enough for one vehicle, while also facing an oncoming human-driven vehicle. Aware of its closer proximity to the end of the narrow lane than the human-driven vehicle, the robotaxi firmly but safely nudges forward, signaling to the human driver that it should yield and allow the robotaxi to pass first.
A similar situation occurs again, when the robotaxi detects an oncoming car in a narrow lane. This time, however, both cars are at opposite ends of the lane. The RoboTaxi evaluates the scenario and makes the decision to back up twice to make room for the other car, until the two vehicles can work their way around each other.
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The robotaxi in this video is equipped with the AutoX Gen5 system, which was released on July 6 in Shanghai. The AutoX Gen5 system has 50 sensors in total, as well as a vehicle control unit of 2200 TOPS computing power. There are 28 cameras capturing a total of 220 million pixels per second, six high-resolution LiDAR offering 15 million points per second, and 4D RADAR with 0.9-degree resolution encompassing a 360-degree view around the vehicle. Using cameras and LiDAR fusion perception blind spot modules, the Gen5 system covers the entire robotaxi body with zero blind spots.