How does it feel to take a driverless taxi in China?-CnEVPost

After the outbreak of the new coronavirus pneumonia epidemic, this week has ushered in a wave of resumption of work. Many people may try to avoid taking public transportation as far as possible. At this time, online car hailing becomes a preferred choice.

However, in consideration of the contact problems of the driver and driver, in addition to emphasizing the need for both parties to wear masks, the driver to report body temperature, car interior disinfection and air ventilation, Didi recently said that it would install a car interior protective film for the driver for free to prevent as much Droplets spread.

Although this makes the ride experience worse, in a very period of time, these "creatives" are really helpless. But do you have any special expectations for self-driving cars at this moment?

Assuming driverless taxis are truly moving towards market-based operations, it is unlikely that a taxi driver in Tokyo will infect multiple people in Japan. Medical workers on the front lines can be connected via driverless cars, and the government does not need to worry about allocating capacity. It also reduces the risk of infection for service volunteers.

Of course, the benefits that autonomous driving technology can bring to society are much more than that.

It will fundamentally improve travel safety, reduce the incidence of traffic accidents, and cooperate with the entire smart city infrastructure to greatly optimize travel efficiency, so that the transportation system is truly highly integrated.

In early November of last year, Waymo began piloting a true self-driving taxi service on the outskirts of Phoenix, Arizona, USA. There are no safety guards, only passengers.

In China, starting from November 28, 2019, the RoboTaxi fleet of the autonomous driving company WeRide has also officially launched trial operation services in Huangpu District and Guangzhou Development Zone in Guangzhou.

This pilot service was promoted through WeRide's joint venture WeRideRoboTaxi, together with Guangzhou Baiyun Taxi Automobile Group and Science City (Guangzhou) Investment Group, which is another major progress made by WeRide in the commercialization of RoboTaxi.

So nearly three months have elapsed. How is this pilot service going?

We can learn more from WeRide's recently released China's first self-driving taxi Robo-Taxi trial operation report.

The first 40,000 kilometers

The data collection cycle of WeRide's operation report is from December 1st to 31st, during which a total of 8,396 travel orders were completed, with an average daily service frequency of 270.8 times, and the total order mileage reached 41,140 kilometers, with a total of 4,683 users participating.

It is understood that this Robo-Taxi trial operation service covers 144.65 square kilometers of urban open roads in Huangpu District and Guangzhou Development Zone Central District.

For the sake of safety, the restrictions on electronic fences have been adopted like Waymo, but citizens only need to download the car-hailing app WeRide Go to call and use it. It is currently the only pilotless taxi service in China that is open to the public.

"In China, there is no precedent for Robo-Taxi operations that are fully open to the public. In the first month, we obtained a large amount of complex road test data and first-hand experience of Robo-Taxi passenger operations, for the next stage of research and development. And operations are off to a good start. "

WeRide COO and WeRideRoboTaxi CEO Zhang Li told Geek Park.

He also pointed out that the successful operation of WeRideRoboTaxi trial operation service cannot be separated from the close cooperation between the teams of WeRide and Baiyun Taxi Vehicle Group.

In the first phase, WeRideRoboTaxi launched dozens of L4 autopilot taxis. The fleet uses Nissan pure electric models and is equipped with WeRide's latest L4 autopilot software and hardware solutions. It is cooperated by WeRide, Baiyun Taxi Group and Science City Group. Development is complete.

The daily operating hours are from 8 am to 10 pm, and each car can carry a maximum of 3 passengers.

Driverless

Except for those conspicuous sensors, from the outside, the Robo-Taxi in front of you is not much different from a traditional taxi.

From the perspective of purpose, when choosing to travel by public transportation, safety and speed are the primary considerations for passengers, followed by comfort and price.

Therefore, from the data of this trial operation monthly report, the entire unmanned fleet provided 8396 services, accounting for 62% of the total order demand.

On average, in each operating period of the day, the order demand for the morning and evening commute peaks is the highest, which is equivalent to the traditional taxis and online taxis. It provides users with another option to solve the car use in a specific period. demand.

In addition, according to the overall data, the average number of calls per day for a single user is 1.8, and the average service mileage per order is 4.9 kilometers.

In contrast, Baiyun Taxi's average taxi mileage per order in December was 7.17 kilometers.

The reason for this gap is that WeRideRoboTaxi's Robo-Taxi only provides services within the scope of electronic fences, and there are no long-distance orders such as high-speed and airport, which are close to the normal operation level of traditional taxis.

However, unlike traditional taxis, you can't beckon to call an unmanned taxi. At present, WeRideRoboTaxi's service only supports fixed pick-up and drop-off points and taxi selection.

However, citizens can submit new pick-up and drop-off requests via WeRideRoboTaxi's WeRide Go public account, App, H5 and other channels. As long as the basic requirements are met, such as within the scope of the electronic fence and not in violation of traffic regulations, the application can be approved.

As of now, WeRideRoboTaxi Robo-Taxi has expanded from more than thirty in the initial period of operation to more than a hundred, more than doubled. It is still being added, covering shopping malls, administrative offices and large communities in the operating area. , Subway, bus stations and other popular calling locations.

The operation report shows that the three most popular boarding and alighting points in the current operating area are: Huangpu District Administrative Service Center, Baifenghui Plaza, Wanda Plaza (Huangpu Store).

The reason why it is not possible to get on and off at any point is mainly because of safety considerations. After all, the machine cannot fully sense the environment like humans, and the scenes that humans can control may be broken by artificial intelligence.

Therefore, as far as possible within the scope of the electronic fence, selecting a suitable connection and alighting location places higher requirements on the operational capabilities of the WeRideRoboTaxi team, which also involves communication and games with relevant government departments, property management agencies and the like.

As for the service level of these "machine pilots", we can find out from the feedback given by passengers. Unlike dealing with express drivers, "brother, give a good comment", you don't have to worry about being harassed by giving a bad review.

Nonetheless, 94% of the passengers gave the highest five-star rating, and the feedback was “smooth vehicle driving”, “tidy inside the vehicle”, and “good safety attitude”. Nearly 30% of users checked the above options.

In fact, "don't talk to the driver awkwardly" this is definitely the voice of most users, because you don't know how to crash when you meet an upset or very tired when you meet a driver who is talking so hard .

For the remaining 4% of the users who gave a rating of less than five stars, the feedback was mostly "unstable driving or braking conditions", "improper route planning", and "long waiting time" is also an aspect that users hope to improve as soon as possible.

In fact, autonomous driving in urban road conditions is far more difficult to achieve than highways. The complex scene and the large number of traffic participants, especially in China, not crossing the road in accordance with traffic rules, and suddenly drilling out battery cars, etc., have brought considerable difficulties in operating unmanned rental businesses in cities.

In addition to the immaturity of technology, the reason for sudden brakes or unreasonable route planning problems is the fact that inadequate transportation infrastructure also causes this.

In WeRide's opinion, any real feedback from users is of paramount importance. These opinions will be used as the standard for optimizing iterative algorithms and improving service experience, and "stability" should become one of the important criteria for measuring the level of driverlessness.

Operation, safety first

From its inception, WeRide's strategic goal has always been very clear, that is, the first passenger-carrying trial operation of autonomous driving in 2020. They have also been developing Robo-Taxi as a product for the past year. Currently, WeRide's WeRide ONE general-purpose algorithm for autonomous driving, Robo-Taxi operates all-scenario, all-weather coverage.

As of December 2019, WeRide's self-driving road test mileage has exceeded 1.15 million kilometers, which has guaranteed the smooth operation of WeRideRoboTaxi Robo-Taxi.

It is worth mentioning that in the months of trial operation, WeRideRoboTaxi's Robo-Taxi fleet maintained a record of zero safety incidents. WeRide strictly controlled technical safety redundancy and safety officer work throughout the operation period.

At the same time, in the real operation scenario of Robo-Taxi, WeRideRoboTaxi focused on optimizing the technical details of operational efficiency and user experience, including human-vehicle interaction during boarding and disembarking, and autonomous driving cruise routes without orders.

The vehicle is equipped with the self-driving visualization product WeRide Viz. In a concise and smooth visual language, the road condition information of RoboTaxi and its surroundings is transmitted to the passengers in real time with a high-performance rendering of 60 frames per second. Bridge between driving vehicle and passengers.

Assuming you clearly see how the self-driving car interacts with other traffic participants, you also have some confidence in the technology.

In terms of getting on and off, WeRideRoboTaxi focuses on optimizing the planning ability in narrow scenarios, so that Robo-Taxi can reasonably plan the parking path according to the surrounding environment, the dynamic changes of vehicles and pedestrians near the parking point, and choose the most convenient way for passengers to get on and off. Specific location.

By analyzing the distribution characteristics of orders, WeRideRoboTaxi's fleet management system coordinates real-time autonomous driving patrol routes of vehicles without orders, and effectively configures Robo-Taxi in demanding sections and periods, which greatly improves vehicle order receiving efficiency and reduces passenger waiting time.

It is understood that after the trial operation is started, each Robo-Taxi contributes 1.5TB of data to the database in various dimensions such as environmental information, perception data, and vehicle decision behavior, accumulating richer scenarios for the simulation scenario library and model training. A closed data loop between products and operations has been achieved.

Why is WeRide?

In the context of the poor global investment and financing environment last year, WeRide received a round A financing led by the Renault-Nissan Mitsubishi Alliance strategy. It is the first domestic L4 autopilot startup to receive investment from a global automaker. The total test mileage has exceeded 1 million kilometers.

WeRide's global headquarters was settled in Guangzhou in December 2017, and the following achievements have been achieved in just two years:

Launched the first domestic L4 level autonomous driving test run in Guangzhou International Biological Island;

The self-developed L4 self-driving car successfully achieved the first domestic tunnel crossing under the river and completed the safe driving in heavy rain;

Realize the nation's first L4 level autonomous driving application under 5G network;

L4 level driverless company led by the global automaker Renault-Nissan Mitsubishi Alliance;

The number of autonomous driving road test licenses ranks second in the country, second only to Baidu;

The establishment of the first autonomous driving joint venture WeRideRoboTaxi in first-tier cities.

It is worth mentioning that WeRide's "WeRide ONE" automatic driving universal algorithm can achieve Robo-Taxi full scene and weather coverage, including tunnels, bridges, highways, morning and evening peaks, nighttime, rainy days, etc.

Through 5G cooperation with China Unicom, the country's first unmanned application under 5G network was realized.

On August 07, 2019, WeRide was a key player and announced the establishment of a joint venture company, WeRideRoboTaxi, with Guangzhou Baiyun Taxi Automobile Group Co., Ltd. and Guangzhou Science City.

WeRide calls the three parties' cooperation the "Iron Triangle Mode", the purpose of which is to achieve the strategic synergy between AI technology, car companies, and travel platforms, and further explore the commercialization of autonomous driving.

Wang Jianhong, deputy general manager of Baiyun Taxi Group, said in an interview with the media that the performance of the WeRideRoboTaxi unmanned fleet in the first month of trial operation is close to the operating efficiency of traditional taxis, and it also brings a more intelligent service experience. He is looking forward to the future Unlimited possibilities after large-scale operations.

According to Han Xu, founder and CEO of WeRide, Robo-Taxi of WeRideRoboTaxi will usher in a more scaled year in 2020.

The company plans to gradually remove safety officers in some areas to achieve a true driverless travel experience, which will be the focus of WeRide's next work.

The new coronavirus pneumonia epidemic is still raging, and WeRide's driverless taxis are also on this hazy spring day,

One trip on the streets of Huangpu District and Development Zone in Guangzhou. We are looking forward to the report on the operation, maintenance and user experience of Robo-Taxi during this extraordinary period after the epidemic is over. These data will also become the commercialization of future autonomous driving. Important reference.

From the blindfolded run to the return to rationality today, after brutal competition and elimination, the companies that are left on the global autonomous driving track are all companies with unique values in various fields.

How rich the ecology will be in the future, it may not be predicted yet, but removing the driver from the driving seat brings in a safer, more convenient and more comfortable travel experience, and the car will become the family and the people after work The important third space, which generates more diverse user needs, is an indisputable fact.

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