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Baidu To Launch Autonomous Ride-Hailing Services In Beijing

·2 min read

Baidu (BIDU) has set May 2, 2021 as the date it will launch its fully autonomous robotaxi services, called Apollo Go Robotaxi, in Shougang Park, Beijing.

The first of its kind, the autonomous vehicle service will allow users to enjoy a ride without a driver behind the wheel. The robotaxis should come in handy for people commuting across the city and will be used to transport athletes during the upcoming Winter Olympics.

Baidu is to become the first Chinese company offering fully driverless robotaxi service for commercial operations. The service will allow users of the Apollo Go App to book a robotaxi through a system of unmanned self-service processes.

The robotaxi will come with a virtual reality navigation system designed to help users identify the car's location. Users will have to scan QR codes and health codes on the car for identity verification to take a ride. Clicking the “Start the Journey” button will result in the fastening of the safety belts and locking of doors, among other necessary measures. The journey will start once all protocols are met.

The unveiling of the driverless ride-hailing service would mark an important step in commercializing autonomous driving in the city.

"In the future, Baidu Apollo will launch driverless robotaxis in more cities, enabling the public to access greener, low-carbon, and convenient travel services, while continuing to improve the unmanned service process and user experience,” said Baidu general manager for autonomous driving technology, Yunpeng Wang.

Impressed by progress on Baidu’s autonomous driving arm, Oppenheimer analyst Jason Helfstein has reiterated a Buy rating on the stock. The analyst says the company is well-positioned to report 1Q 2021 results that are in line with expectations. (See Baidu stock analysis on TipRanks).

“We believe BIDU's autonomous driving arm Apollo is tapping into a rapidly-growing market (RMB 811B by '25E) including robotaxi, ADAS, and V2X (vehicle-to-everything). WM W6, the first mass-production model installed with BIDU's AVP (Apollo Valet Parking) has received over 6,000 preorders in 50 hours, implying strong consumer demand for autonomous driving” Helfstein wrote in a research note to investors.

The analyst has a $355 price target on the stock, implying 67.22% upside potential to current levels.

Wall Street is optimistic about Baidu's long-term prospects. Consensus among analysts is a Strong Buy based on 15 Buy and 2 Hold ratings. The average analyst price target of $349.87 implies 64.81% upside potential to current levels.

BIDU scores a “Perfect 10” on the TipRanks’ Smart Score rating system, implying that it is likely to top market expectations.

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