Driverless robotaxis are now available for public rides in China

After lots of tests, it’s now possible to hail a truly driverless robotaxi in China. AutoX has become the first in the country to offer public rides in autonomous vehicles without safety drivers. You’ll need to sign up for a pilot program in Shenzhen and use membership credits, but after that you can hop in a modified Chrysler Pacifica to travel across town without seeing another human being.

As with Waymo One, there is help if you need it. You can talk to customer support reps if you have questions or need help.

AutoX is eager to tout its robotaxis’ ability to handle real-world conditions after several months of stress testing. In a demo video (below), the driverless van knows how to safely “nudge” past a parked vehicle and deal with a scooter running a red light. The vehicles use a combination of LiDAR, radar and blind spot sensing to get a feel for their environment.

Fully driverless robotaxis are still very rare anywhere in the world, and it’ll take a combination of refined technology and updated regulation before they’re relatively commonplace. This is an important step in that direction, though. They might get a boost in the current climate, though. The COVID-19 pandemic has added risk to conventional ride hailing for both drivers and passengers, and removing drivers could make this one of the safest travel options for people without cars of their own.