Is driverless car safe? Concern raised after pedestrian gets hit by one in China

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Is driverless car safe? Concern raised after pedestrian gets hit by one in China


  • The incident on Sunday in the city of Wuhan highlights the challenge that autonomous driving faces in complex situations.
A Baidu Inc. Apollo RT6 robotaxi travels on a road during Baidu’s Apollo Day in Wuhan, China, on Wednesday, May 15, 2024. Baidu�s ride-hailing platform Apollo Go, which deploys driverless cars in major cities including Shanghai and Beijing, aims to deploy 1,000 robotaxis in Wuhan in 2024. Source: Bloomberg (Bloomberg)

A driverless ride-hailing car in China hit a pedestrian, and people on social media are taking the carmaker’s side, because the person was reportedly crossing against the light.

The operator of the vehicle, Chinese tech giant Baidu, said in a statement to Chinese media that the car began moving when the light turned green and had minor contact with the pedestrian.

The person was taken to a hospital where an examination found no obvious external injuries, Baidu said.

Also Read : Amazon’s robotaxi unit Zoox under scanner in US after 2 rear-end crashes

The incident on Sunday in the city of Wuhan highlights the challenge that autonomous driving faces in complex situations, the Chinese financial news outlet Yicai said. It quoted an expert saying the technology may have limitations when dealing with unconventional behaviour such as other vehicles or pedestrians that violate traffic laws.

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Images posted online show a person sitting on the street in front of the driverless car with its rooftop sensors. Comments on social media largely supported Baidu, pointing out that the pedestrian had broken the law, the English-language Shanghai Daily newspaper said in a post on X.

Beijing-based search-engine and artificial intelligence company Baidu is a leader in the development of autonomous driving in China. Its largest “robotaxi” operation, with a fleet of 300 cars, is in Wuhan, a major city in central China that had the world’s first major outbreak of COVID-19 in early 2020.

Also Read : Toyota plans electric car with advanced autonomous driving for Chinese market

Apollo Go, as the ride-hailing service is called, also operates in more limited parts of three other Chinese cities — Beijing, Shenzhen and Chongqing. The company launched the sixth-generation of its driverless taxi in May, saying it had brought the unit cost down by more than half to under USD 30,000.

First Published Date: 09 Jul 2024, 16:17 PM IST

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