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Autonomous Driving Technology Developer AutoX Unveils its 'Robotaxi Assembly Line' in China

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【Summary】Autonomous driving technology developer AutoX has unveiled its robotaxi assembly line in China, where it plans to produce thousands of self-driving vehicles for autonomous mobility services in China. The robotaxis are being built using Chrysler Pacifica minivans from Fiat Chrysler Automobiles (FCA), which is the same vehicle being used by Waymo in the U.S. for its autonomous ride-hailing service.

Eric Walz    Dec 22, 2021 2:30 PM PT
Autonomous Driving Technology Developer AutoX Unveils its 'Robotaxi Assembly Line' in China
The robotaxi factory turns Chrysler Pacifica minivans into self-driving vehicles by adding advanced hardware from AutoX.

Autonomous driving technology developer AutoX has unveiled its robotaxi assembly line in China, where it plans to produce thousands of self-driving vehicles for commercial mobility services in China, Chinese news outlet Gasgoo reported.

The robotaxis are being built using Pacifica minivans supplied by Fiat Chrysler Automobiles (FCA). The same vehicle used by Waymo in the U.S. for its planned robotaxis service called Waymo One. The factory is designed to add the fifth generation of the AutoX autonomous driving system to the vehicle. 

The robotaxi factory first opened in July. Since then the production line has been through three rounds of design and process optimizations to improve the overall assembly process. The assembly line includes robots and other assembly technology from some of the world's top industrial supply companies, including ABB, Seimens, Omron, Schneider Electric, Philips and Mitsubishi.

AutoX's full-stack SAE Level 4 autonomous driving system is called the "AI Driver", which integrates all of the software and hardware components. The company's autonomous driving system is designed to operate without human intervention. 

At the plant, each AutoX Gen5 vehicle gets outfitted with state-of-the-art sensors, including cameras and lidar as well as autonomous driving electronic and electrical architecture. The core computing platform delivers 2,200 TOPS of computing power, according to AutoX.

The two companies also co-developed an redundant wire drive-by-wire system along with a  full-stack architectural redundancy, to prevent any single point failures of the system and increase passenger safety.

The full-stack AI Driver is also designed to be compatible with vehicles from different manufacturers.

AutoX was founded in 2016 in Silicon Valley by Xiao Jianxiong, a former Princeton University assistant professor. Xiao also serves as the company's CEO. He launched the company with a goal of "democratizing autonomy" by making it readily available as part of people's everyday lives. The company's U.S. headquarters are in San Jose, California.

"The seamless combination of autonomous and human-driving fleets is a crucial step for the adoption and commercialization of self-driving technology," Xiao said in 2019.

AutoX launched the first autonomous delivery pilot service in California when it partnered with grocery stores and restaurants in the city of San Jose near its headquarters in June 2018.

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An AutoX autonomous vehicle in China.

In June 2019, AutoX received the world's second robotaxi pilot permit issued by California's Public Utilities Commission (CPUC), for the testing of autonomous vehicles without a safety driver onboard and launched its robotaxi pilot service shortly after.

Two months later, AutoX signed a partnership with the City of Shanghai to jointly launch the first commercial robotaxi fleet in China. The robotaxi service was opened to the general public in 2020, allowing customers to use a smartphone app to hail one of the AutoX self-driving vehicles.

AutoX entered a partnership agreement with Pengcheng Taxi, the largest taxi company in Shenzhen, to collaborate on the RoboTaxi deployment operation at scale. 

AutoX now operates China's largest autonomous ride hailing service areas, covering 65 square miles in Shenzhen. The company was the first to successfully navigate the downtown traffic in the mega-city of Shenzhen from any point to any point, the company said when the service launched.

The app-based AutoX autonomous ride-hailing service is simply called "Robotaxi."

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