Baidu Earns First Permit in China for Fully Driverless Road Tests in Beijing

Baidu Inc. on Dec. 4 was granted the first permit by the Beijing transportation authorities for five of its vehicles to conduct fully driverless road tests.

The approval makes Baidu the first and only company to be permitted to conduct driverless tests, where no safety driver is placed in the autonomous driving vehicles on public streets in the city of Beijing.

The permission will enable the auto-driving pioneer to gradually reduce human intervention on test vehicles and eventually remove in-car safety drivers from its autonomous vehicle road tests, accelerating Baidu in commercializing the autonomous driving unit. 

For the AI-centered company, the approval affirms that its AI driving system is capable of independently operating vehicles in complex urban road conditions in Beijing, which has the most stringent safety requirements for driverless road tests.

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Published in November 2020, the requirements include obtaining T3 or higher testing ability, completing more than 300,000 km of safe test driving on open roads and passing an evaluation on a closed track.

On top of these, Baidu has also developed its 5G Remote Driving Service, which instantaneously provides immediate assistance from remote human operators when the user or the system switches to “parallel driving mode.” With over 1,000 hours of cloud-based driving training without any accidents, the human operator, also known as a safety driver, is able to remotely take control of a vehicle in case of an emergency.