Baidu has unveiled plans for an electric self-driving car with a removable steering wheel, marking another step forward in the fast-moving robotaxi race in China.
The Chinese tech giant, the country’s answer to Google (GOOGL), revealed the Apollo RT6, its sixth-generation autonomous vehicle, at its annual flagship conference on Thursday.
Baidu’s ride-hailing service, Apollo Go, currently operates in 10 Chinese cities. The new vehicle will roll out through that program sometime next year.
Once regulators give the green light, the Apollo RT6’s detachable steering wheel will legally be able to come off, a company executive said Thursday.
The company said its new self-driving car has dramatically lowered the production costs from previous versions, by about half. Those cost savings will be passed on to passengers as the company prepares to introduce the cars to its existing fleet of robotaxis around the country, according to CEO Robin Li.