Baidu Self-Driving Taxi Launches in China

Company’s Apollo Go robotaxi could soon be world’s first profitable self-driving taxi platform

Graham Hope

May 17, 2024

2 Min Read
Baidu's self driving taxi drives along a road

Tech giant Baidu has confirmed the launch of its sixth-generation self-driving taxi in China.

And at the same time, it has revealed that its Apollo Go robotaxi arm is close to breaking even and likely to turn a profit in 2025. This would make it the world’s first profitable autonomous ride-hailing platform.

The launch of the RT6 was announced at the company’s Apollo Day, held in Wuhan, in Hubei province.

The vehicle, which is made by strategic partner Jiangling Motors, was first unveiled in 2022 but is now finally ready to be put into service. Around 1,000 are expected to be deployed in Wuhan alone by the end of 2024.

The all-electric model measures 15.7 feet long – very similar to a Tesla Model 3 – and comes with a spacious cabin for four passengers. 


It features computing units with power of up to 1200 TOPS, plus a vast array of sensors, including lidar and cameras, to help facilitate its automated functionality. 

When driven in autonomous mode – without a human safety monitor – the steering wheel can be hidden away, plus it can easily swap batteries. It also leverages the new Level 4 Apollo Autonomous Driving Foundation Model and features ten layers of safety redundancy.

Arguably the most significant element of the RT6, though, is the cost. According to Baidu, the price is around 200,000 yuan – which broadly equates to $27,700. 

Related:Hyundai, Kia Team with Baidu on Self-Driving Vehicle Tech

This is a reduction of around 50% on its predecessor.

And it’s this ability to build self-driving taxis more cheaply, plus increased use of the Apollo Go service, and a growing number of autonomous rides – which in turn cuts overheads – that is moving the business towards profitability.

The company’s most recent quarterly report revealed that Apollo Go delivered 839,000 rides in the last three months of 2023, which represented a 49% increase year on year, while 45% of those fulfilled in Wuhan were by fully autonomous vehicles. By January, that figure had risen again, to 50%.

Apollo Go is also claimed to have safely traveled more than 62 million kilometers without any major accidents.

Wuhan has emerged as a key hub, where it operates hundreds of self-driving taxis across an area of around 3000 square kilometers and last year launched a service between the local airport and urban center – the first of its kind in China.

But is also active in other cities, with driverless rides available in Beijing and Shenzhen among others.

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About the Author(s)

Graham Hope

Graham Hope has worked in automotive journalism in the U.K. for 26 years, including spells as editor of leading consumer news website and weekly Auto Express and respected buying guide CarBuyer.

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