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Chinese internet giant Baidu's Apollo Robotaxi driverless taxi service, based in Changsha in China's Hunan province, became fully operational this week after completing trials originally launched in September of last year.

Apollo Robotaxi's fleet of autonomous vehicles operates in a 130 sq km area, covering diverse driving conditions including in residential areas, commercial zones and industrial parks.

The fleet uses Baidu's in-house developed Vehicle to Everything (V2X) navigation system and each car comes with a back up driver in case of emergencies in accordance with current traffic regulations.

Changsa residents can now hail Apollo autonomous taxis free of charge through the Baidu Maps app. 

Baidu is now testing its autonomous taxi service with passengers in other areas of China, including in Beijing and in Cangzhou in Hebei province.

The Chinese government has made available areas for self driving vehicle tests in more than 20 provinces and cities across China, including Beijing, Shanghai, Guangzhou, Changsha, Wuhan and Cangzhou.

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By GlobalData

In a separate report, China's Ministry of Industry and Information Technology said that by the end of 2020 it expects to develop a standards and regulatory framework for advanced driving assist systems, autonomous driving, information safety and connectivity.

It will then conduct pilot programmes involving local carmakers for further evaluation.