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Alibaba-backed AutoX partners with Fiat to launch robotaxis for China

By Ramla Soni

AutoX aims to make its technology available to companies that want to operate robotaxi fleets of their own

Alibaba-backed vehicle startup AutoX, is partnering with Fiat Chrysler to launch robotaxis in China and other Asian countries.

According to AutoX, a fleet of Chrysler Pacifica minivans will be available to the public in China in early 2020 with passengers able to call a robotaxi using a WeChat mini-program amongst other popular apps in China.

AutoX, which is based in Hong Kong and San Jose, California began offering public rides in Shenzhen in early 2019, and in September partnered with Shanghai to launch 100 of its robotaxis there.

While AutoX has been testing robotaxis in California and China, it says its real aim is to make its technology available to companies that want to operate their own robotaxi fleets.

AutoX CEO Jianxiong Xiao said the next challenge is to remove the safety driver and make the robotaxi driverless.

The Chrysler Pacifica van is being exhibited at CES 2020 in Las Vegas this week. The vehicle is said to have 360 degrees of solid state lidar sensors, 'lidar' stands for light detection and ranging. Lidar sensors use laser pulses to build a 3D model of the environment around the car.

Essentially, lidar helps autonomous vehicles recognise and see other objects, like cars, pedestrians, and cyclists.

AutoX are partnering with RoboSense and drone manufacturer DJI for its lidar sensors.

The vehicle is also equipped with a vehicle control unit, called the XCU which powers and integrates sensors such as lidar and radar into the vehicle.

Last year, AutoX announced a partnership with Swedish electric vehicle manufacturer NEVS to deploy the first large scale robotaxi pilots service in Europe by the end of 2020.

Further reading: Fiat and Peugeot sign binding merger agreement

Further reading: Didi Chuxing to launch robotaxi fleet in Shanghai

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