Chinese technology company Baidu has begun operating commercial public transport services with three autonomous buses in Chongqing in China’s south west.

The three ‘robobuses’ are 5.9 metres in length and have a cruising speed of around 40km/h (25mph). They are equipped with Level-4 self-driving technology which, Baidu said, allows them to navigate complex urban road conditions and fully meet the needs of normal bus operation on the 10km (six mile) route.

The buses also have facial recognition technology allowing passengers to use their IC cards or Alipay payment systems, according to local reports.

Baidu has been trialing autonomous buses in other Chinese cities, including Guangzhou and Cangzhou, but Chongqing is the first city to in which it has launched commercial services.

Autonomous public transport services are gaining momentum in China with the Beijing municipal government last month awarding its first licences for two hailing companies, Baidu and Pony.ai, to operate commercial taxi services using autonomous vehicles.

Earlier this year Baidu unveiled its first Level 5 fully autonomous vehicle at the company’s annual world conference in Beijing.