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AUTOX - This is one of the growing fleet of AutoX robotaxis currently operating in China. Along with Waymo in the US, the advent of robotic cars is creating quite a stir in media articles as you can see from the coverage featured on this website, and how delightful it will be when buses and our personal vehicles, automatically take us to our destinations, free of speeding tickets - and safer - also with less harm to the environment as tire wear will be reduced.




DECEMBER 3, 2020 - Alibaba-backed autonomous car firm AutoX starts driverless testing

BEIJING/SHANGHAI (Reuters) - Chinese autonomous vehicle startup AutoX, backed by Alibaba Group Holding Ltd, said on Thursday it has started fully driverless vehicle testing in China with Pacifica minivans from Fiat Chrysler Automobiles NV (FCA).

AutoX, which is also backed by Dongfeng Motor Group Co Ltd and SAIC Motor Corp Ltd, will have a fleet of 25 driverless vehicles in Shenzhen and five in other cities to test the technology. Automakers and technology firms are investing billions of dollars in autonomous driving, aiming to take an early lead in what many consider the future of mobility. Shenzhen-based AutoX has modified a number of vehicles from various manufacturers and tested them in Shenzhen, Shanghai, Guangzhou, Wuhan and Wuhu.

To attract deep-pocketed partners, startups seek to test their technology with different production vehicles in a variety of cities.

In July, AutoX became the second firm after Alphabet Inc’s Waymo to test a passenger vehicle on California’s public roads without a safety driver in the front.

Unlike rivals WeRide and Baidu, which are testing their driverless vehicles in China but use a remote centre to take control of their vehicles if needed, AutoX will not have a remote centre.

“We think with current communications infrastructure, remote control brings safety issues as 5G signals are not stable yet and hackers might attack the vehicles,” AutoX Chief Executive Xiao Jianxiong told Reuters.

In China, companies such as Toyota-backed and Didi Chuxing are also testing autonomous cars, but all with one or two safety staff onboard. The people onboard take control in unexpected situations.

CNBC 3 DECEMBER 2020 - Completely driverless cars are being tested in China for the first time

SINGAPORE — Self-driving cars without human drivers as a back-up are now being tested in China’s Shenzhen city, according to AutoX, a Chinese autonomous car technology firm.

The Alibaba-backed company said Thursday that this is the first time a “completely autonomous fleet,” that has no accompanying human drivers or remote operators, is on the roads in China.

Multiple so-called “robotaxi” projects have been launched in Chinese cities, but these vehicles still have a driver who can take over in emergencies or someone who can operate the car remotely.

Driverless “stress tests” to see how the vehicle performs in various road situations were conducted over the past six months, the company said in the press release.

Jewel Li, the firm’s chief operating officer, told CNBC that more than 100 robotaxis are being tested across Chinese cities, with 25 fully autonomous vehicles in Shenzhen.

To be clear, AutoX’s completely driverless robotaxis are not open to the general public yet. They are only available to employees and private guests, such as media, business partners, investors and auto-makers, according to CEO Jianxiong Xiao.







Plans to test outside China


The next step would be to increase the number of cars and the test area size, and to carry out tests in more cities, she said on “Squawk Box Asia” on Thursday. “We have a plan in the next six months to expand to 10 cities globally.”

Li said one of those cities will likely be in Southeast Asia, but did not specify which.

“We’re very excited about the Southeast Asia market, we think this is the next rising market,” she said.

She noted that AutoX has an advantage in Southeast Asia compared to other autonomous driving systems developed and tested in the West, because streets in Asia are more similar to those in Chinese cities.

AutoX also has a pilot self-driving taxi service in Shanghai and a permit to test driverless cars without a safety driver in parts of San Jose, California.

‘Sci-fi’ experience

Li said passengers found the fully driverless trials exciting.

“It’s close to a sci-fi kind of experience for most of our riders,” she said. “When you really experience the vehicle fully driving itself, the level of excitement is overwhelming.”

Beyond the novelty, she said autonomous vehicles will help to solve privacy issues and safety concerns in light of the coronavirus pandemic.

By Abigail Ng — CNBC’s Arjun Kharpal contributed to this report







The ongoing debate about the viability and safety of fully driverless vehicles hasn’t prevented several companies from putting them on the roads, the latest location being in Shenzhen, China, where AutoX is rolling out the first-ever fleet of completely driverless taxis.

The four-year-old company has been testing 25 of the vehicles in the city since April to see how they’ll fare in a large city without a safety driver sitting behind the wheel monitoring the vehicle. It’s also testing five vehicles in other cities around the world.

AutoX officials didn’t formally identify what the other locales were, noting it is just the third company to get approval from the California Department of Motor Vehicles to test its driverless cars. It’s just the second permit allowing passenger vehicles to drive up to 45 mph on the state’s public roads, according to the company. However, it did tell it was testing a vehicle in San Jose, California.

Already operating 100 autonomous cabs in Shenzen and Shanghai since August, AutoX is joining Waymo in being the rare company that is offering rides to the public without any type of operator in the vehicle. Given the lingering impact of the pandemic, riders need only speak the last four digits of their phone number once in the vehicle to confirm their trip.

Looking to allay concerns about how their vehicles will handle all of the interaction that occurs in a large city, AutoX released video footage of its vehicles performing a variety of maneuvers during testing, including u-turns and driving around vehicles parked illegally.

The new set of robotaxis are equipped with the company’s newly released fifth-generation system, which includes a variety of tweaks to help it better navigate urban environments. “This new generation is upgraded with more powerful sensing technology to handle the densest and most complex traffic scenarios such as when pedestrians, fast cyclists, and small pets interact at close range to the vehicle simultaneously,” the company noted.

The system follows conventional thinking when it comes to sensors and cameras, using a mix of ultra-high-resolution cameras – designed in-house by AutoX – with two Lidar sensors placed on both sides of the vehicles as well as advanced 4D radar sensors. It also has multiple blind spot-sensing suites on all sides of the vehicle, in order to create multi-sensor fusion surround vision that can detect even small objects in blind spots.

Most, but not all companies agree on the viability of lidar in autonomous systems. Tesla CEO Elon Musk is the best-known dissenter when it comes to lidar, claiming it’s unnecessary. The California-based EV maker is currently allowing some of its vehicle owners to use a beta version of its long-awaited (and not inexpensive) full self-driving system and none of those cars or utility vehicles is equipped with lidar.

AutoX is partnering with some heavyweights in its development. It’s already existing fleet of self-driving cabs, which use safety monitors, can be hailed using Alibaba’s AutoNavi mapping and navigation app. A separate Shanghai-based taxi service called Letzgo also handles the rides.

In addition to the deal with Alibaba, AutoX has secured more than $160.1 million in venture capital financing to date from investors including Plug and Play Ventures, Hong Kong Science and Technology Parks Corp., and Dongfeng Motor Group. It also plans to use Fiat Chrysler-built minivans for part of its services.









At the moment, the only system that would be capable of servicing such vehicles would be the proposed SmartNet dual fuel service stations, where such vehicles do not need human assistance to replenish their energy reserves, where blue is the new green, helping to cool our climate.


Allied to this is PAYD (Pay As You Drive) billing, also seen as a necessary function for autonomous, unmanned, self-driving, robotic vehicles, is helping to make the world a better place.










SMART SERVICING FOR ROBOT VEHICLES - Those looking for a future proofed infrastructure for renewably sourced energy for electric vehicles, may want to consider the new breed of self driving passenger cars, taxis, and commercial trucks that will benefit from automated recharging if they are to be fully autonomous in operation - most especially unmanned robotic taxis and freight vehicles.




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