The time that cars could go completely driverless is coming “very soon,” according to Jianxiong Xiao, CEO and founder of AutoX, a Shenzhen-based start-up developing autonomous driving technology.
Currently, most regulations across various cities in China still require the presence of a safety driver in vehicles, but the company foresees that as more data gets captured over time, that requirement would be reduced, Xiao told CNBC’s “Street Signs Asia” on Wednesday.
The autonomous driving tech firm chose to partner with Alibaba’s AMAP — a Chinese mapping service provider — to roll out its RoboTaxi ride hailing service in Shanghai on Monday. AMAP is a “super mobility app” with almost 500 million active monthly users, according to Xiao.
AutoX had received approval from Shanghai authorities to roll out a fleet of 100 autonomous ride-hailing cars in Shanghai’s Jiading district in September last year.
Earlier this month, AutoX announced that it had set up an 80,000 square feet RoboTaxi operations center in Shanghai to help facilitate operations of its driverless fleet, as well as act as a center to collect data from daily operations. The center is also able to store data obtained from simulation cloud computers running virtual tests non-stop, according to a South China Morning Post report citing AutoX.
Backed by investors such as Alibaba, Shanghai Motor and Dongfeng Motor, AutoX is one of the players in the trillion U.S. dollar Chinese autonomous driving vehicles market alongside others like DiDi Chuxing.
Xiao said they were working with the technology to ensure the vehicles were “very, very safe” and are carrying out a lot of testing.
Over a hundred vehicles have been deployed on roads daily to capture sufficient data needed to validate the software and system, according to Xiao.
He added that the company was also running a hundred times more simulations in the car everyday, and the “huge amount of data” would help to prove that the vehicles could be used in “full safety.”
“Our goal is not to just make (it) as safe as human beings, but going one step forward to really make … a superhuman safety standard; (cars) that (can) drive much safer than any human being ever,” Xiao said.