Original title: The first commercial pilot officially opened for autonomous driving to start the second half of the battle
Judging from the current Robotaxi’s overall experience, it takes time to truly win users.
The starting price is RMB 18, and the mileage per kilometer is RMB 4——BaiduSelf-driving taxis (Robotaxi) lifted their price “veil”.
On November 25th, Beijing officially opened the country’s first pilot commercialization of autonomous driving travel services. At this stage, within 60 square kilometers of Beijing Economic Development Zone (Yizhuang), there will be no more than 100 autonomous vehicles to carry out commercial pilot services.
Among them, Baidu and Xiaoma Zhixing were the first batch of companies that were allowed to carry out commercial pilot services this time. Baidu even received the first domestic autopilot toll order on the first day of pilot opening.
On the 25th, in an interview with media including the 21st Century Business Herald, Wei Dong, vice president of Baidu’s intelligent driving business group and chief safety operation officer, said that Baidu will put about 70 autonomous vehicles in the commercialization pilot area. At present, Baidu adopts the principle of market-based pricing and has formulated a basic pricing model of “starting price + mileage fee” with reference to the standard of no less than online car-hailing special car.
In contrast, even though Xiaoma Zhixing has obtained commercial service qualifications, the 21st Century Business Herald on the 25th found that Xiaoma Zhixing was still in a state of free rides within the pilot range. According to a system notification in the Xiaoma Zhixing APP, it will start a service charging trial on November 26.
Obviously, Baidu has gone further on the road to commercialization. However, judging from the current overall experience of Robotaxi, it takes time to truly win users.
A new starting point for autonomous driving
At 12 noon on November 25, within the pilot area of Beijing Economic Development Zone, 21st Century Business Herald reporters placed an order for Robotaxi service through Baidu’s Apollo’s Radish Quick Run app.
The whole process of placing an order is basically the same as that in ordinary taxi-hailing software: enter the starting point and end point, confirm the order, and wait for the vehicle to pick up the passengers. The 21st Century Business Herald reporter’s order for this ride is 5.5 kilometers in total, travel time is about 18 minutes, and the total cost is 40 yuan.
Since it is currently in the early promotion period of Baidu Robotaxi, after deducting the discount, the actual payment is only 2 yuan. According to Wei Dong, the core goal of Robotaxi in the early stage is to encourage more users to ride. Therefore, it has launched a variety of marketing methods including discounts and gifts. In the future, as user acceptance increases, it will gradually return to standard prices.
In terms of riding experience, Robotaxi, currently in commercial operation, is almost the same as when it was open to the public for testing. However, according to Robotaxi staff, the site density of vehicles will be even greater after commercialization.
On the first day of Robotaxi’s opening test in Beijing last year, 21st Century Business Herald reporters found that vehicles can only be parked at fixed sites, and that fixed sites are often a certain distance away from the end point expected by users. Therefore, at that time Robotaxi was also jokingly called “more like riding a bus” by some users. Today, with the increase in site density, the experience is basically close to ordinary car-hailing.
Although the experience continues to be optimized, there are currently some “slots”.
For example, when calling a car, the user can communicate with the driver on the phone to confirm the location is different. When the autonomous vehicle arrives near the user’s calling point, the user can only confirm his vehicle by comparing the license plate, and cannot interact with the vehicle. This also means that once the stop is slightly different from the user’s location, it is time to test the user’s vision and patience.
For another example, limited by the current vehicle hardware and software configuration, once the user gets on the bus, he cannot modify the destination and the bus route. In other words, there is no “regret medicine” when users get on the car, they can only re-order after reaching the established destination.
However, compared to Xiaoma Zhixing, which has also obtained Robotaxi commercial operation qualifications, Baidu Robotaxi’s experience is still passable. On the same day, the 21st Century Business Herald reporter experienced the Robotaxi service provided by Xiaoma Zhixing: the car received the order nearly 3 minutes after the order was placed, and the reporter waited 17 minutes to get on the car because of the long distance between the cars. Including the driving time of about 12 minutes, the total distance of 4.1 kilometers, the reporter spent a total of about 32 minutes.
The reason why Pony Zhixing’s order vehicles have a longer waiting time is related to the number of vehicles delivered. At present, Baidu has deployed about 70 autonomous vehicles in the commercialized pilot area, which means that Pony Zhixing has about 30 vehicles deployed-the density of vehicles greatly affects the user’s ride-hailing experience.
Focus mode verification
Baidu Robotaxi has officially opened the curtain of commercialization. So, will users pay the bill?
Judging from the existing data, Baidu Robotaxi has a certain commercialization basis. As of now, Baidu’s Apollo test mileage has exceeded 16 million kilometers. Its “Carrot Run” has been opened for normal operation in Beijing, Shanghai, Guangzhou, Changsha, and Cangzhou. It is expected to expand to 65 cities by 2025 and by 2030 Expand to 100 cities every year. In the third quarter of this year, “Carrot Run” provided 115,000 rides in total.
Wei Dong further revealed that since Baidu Robotaxi launched a manned test in Yizhuang in October 2020, its cumulative number of registered users in Yizhuang has exceeded 100,000, and the current monthly active users exceed 20,000. The high frequency of weekly orders Active users accounted for more than 40%.
“Based on more than 20,000 monthly active users and 40% of high-frequency active users, we believe that the first batch of nearly 70 qualified self-driving vehicles launched in Yizhuang should be able to meet the short-distance travel needs of high-stick users.” Wei Dong Pointed out.
During the interview, Wei Dong mentioned “short-distance travel” many times. In fact, considering that the scope of the pilot commercialization of autonomous driving at this stage is only 60 square kilometers, this also determines that the current functional positioning of Robotaxi is more focused on this. In Wei Dong’s view, Robotaxi, which focuses on short-distance travel, is currently in a complementary state with traditional taxis and online car-hailing.
“The main needs of traditional travel customers are a series of travel needs such as entering the city, going to the airport, railway station, etc., but because we can only meet the small short-distance travel in Yizhuang, in fact, it is aimed at the short-distance travel users during the morning and evening peak periods or the imbalanced supply and demand period. Unsatisfied shortcomings are currently a supplement to traditional travel.” Wei Dong said.
However, short-distance travel at this stage is by no means Baidu’s dream of autonomous driving. At the Baidu World Conference in August this year, Robin Li, chairman and CEO of Baidu, proposed the concept of automotive robots. Wei Dong also pointed out that although Robotaxi currently appears in front of users in the form of a vehicle, to a certain extent, Baidu’s understanding of Robotaxi is more of a car robot.
“First of all, by definition, the service space of car robots will be much larger than travel, but at this stage we first start with travel scenarios and experiment.” Wei Dong said, “In this process, we will also absorb more consumption. And continue to iterate the product, so as to continuously verify the revenue share and final cost of travel and other value-added services.”
Therefore, Wei Dong said frankly that although the commercialization has begun, Robotaxi is still more at the verification process of the business model at this stage.
“The commercialization we are doing now does not stipulate how many orders the team must make, how much revenue a day, this is not our goal at this stage. We are more to verify the real scenes and real needs, so as to optimize the product design, The whole process is smoother.” Wei Dong said bluntly, “At present, we do not take the number of orders and the amount of revenue as our core goals.”
(Author: Yang Qingqing Editor: Zhang Weixian)