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The State of Robotaxis in China with Prof. X

Yulong Cui
by Yulong Cui, Analyst
The State of Robotaxis in China with Prof. X
The State of Robotaxis in China with Prof. X

The State of Robotaxis in China with Prof. X

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The development of self-driving cars and assisted-driving cars has taken massive strides in the last decade. In today’s episode, we speak with MIT and Princeton graduate, Dr. Jianxiong Xiao, also known as Professor X. Dr. Xiao founded AutoX in 2016, which became the first private company to commercialize fully autonomous robotaxis in China in 2020. Their self-driving vehicles have successfully been deployed throughout the Pingshan District, known as the downtown tech center of Shenzhen, where they have been made fully available to the public.

Today, we speak with Dr. Xiao about his career, what AutoX has been able to accomplish since 2016, and what he has learned from developing self-driving cars. He explains how regulation has had to catch up with the technology of self-driving cars and how those regulations are set both internally and externally with regards to self-driving cars in California and China. We also discuss Dr. Xiao’s hopes and predictions for the global market of self-driving cars and how those will be affected by factors like pricing and demand. He explains that China’s demand for robotaxis is significantly informed by its cultural attitude to car ownership, as well as the government’s regulatory attitude towards pollution. Dr. Xiao breaks down some of the technology they use in AutoX and shares his opinion on HD mapping, and we also discuss the steady improvement of AI technology and how it adapts to traffic and predicts movement. Dr. Xiao is confident that the cost of self-driving cars and robotaxis will continue to go down and become more accessible over time so, for all this and more, join us for an exciting and informative conversation!

Key Points From This Episode: 

  • Dr. Xiao’s education, from Hong Kong University of Science and Technology to MIT.
  • How AutoX commercialized fully autonomous cars in China.
  • The challenge of creating fully autonomous self-driving cars that do not need a driver at all.
  • How regulations in China had to catch up with the technology and insurance.
  • Dr. Xiao goes into detail regarding the safety regulations
  • The different aspects of Waymo and LIDAR when it comes to designing self-driving cars and how they converge to ensure optimum safety.
  • A discussion on the limitations of cameras in self-driving car design.
  • How radars and cameras complement one another in 3D mapping.
  • Why Dr. Xiao is confident the cost of self-driving cars will continue to decrease.
  • The improvement of AI technology, how it adapts to traffic, and predicts movement.
  • The crucial role that multiple engineers play in improving AI for self-driving cars.
  • Why Shenzhen’s high population density makes it a good city for gathering data.
  • The difficulty of collecting data on how moving objects interact.
  • Dr. Xiao discusses the importance of HD mapping.
  • The challenges of keeping mapping up to date, especially in a city like Shenzhen, which has a very high development rate.
  • Variation in data policies in different countries and how it affects technological development.
  • The role of V2X in AutoX’s commercialization of self-driving cars.
  • Why Dr. Xiao believes public confusion between assisted-driving and fully self-driving cars is one of the biggest challenges facing the industry.
  • Why the regulation for assisted driving cars is more complicated than fully self-driving cars.