Didi Chuxing to launch driverless taxis in Shanghai as it struggles to meet growing demand

Chinese ride-hailing service Didi Chuxing on Tuesday said that it is planning to introduce robo-taxi service in Shanghai at the earliest. This is in a bid to fulfil the growing demands of customers of the company's ride hailing service.

Robo-taxis are being touted as the next big thing in ride-hailing service given the shortage in drivers and the growing demand of customers. Didi Chuxing is presently able to meet only 65% of the demand of its huge customer base.

Book robo-taxis on app

Understandably, the introduction of robo-taxis is likely to ease the company's pressure to a great extent. Didi Chuxing vice president and chief technology officer Tiger Qui said that users will be able to book these robo-taxis by using its app.

Didi Chuxing
Didi Chuxing YouTube Grab

However, the company also made it clear that the launch of robo-taxis won't mean a stop to normal human-driven taxis. Understandably, the company plans to launch in Shanghai given the high density of population. According to Pymnts.com, Didi Chuxing also said that it will be soon launching its service in Costa Rica in a bid to tap the growing South American market. Didi Chuxing already has a presence in Mexico and recently launched its services in Australia.

Big challenge ahead

Taxis on the street of New York Pixabay

Much like its rivals Lyft and Uber, Didi Chuxing is yet to register profits although the company has a huge user base. Presently, the company boasts over 550 million users. Driverless taxis certainly will relieve Didi Chuxing of the tremendous pressure and demands of its users. These users also include the ones of Uber in China.

The company bought Uber China in 2016 and since then has been enjoying a monopoly. However, Didi Chuxing, which was founded in 2012, lost $1.6 billion last fiscal and has been struggling to break even.

Hitch discontinued

Although robo-taxis are being helmed as the future of transport Didid Chuxing has to overcome a lot of hurdles. Ride-hailing services have been giving carmakers a run for their money but themselves have courted controversy time and again.

Didi's carpooling service Hitch had to be discontinued after regulatory authorities put a temporary ban on the service following the rape and murder of a female passenger. The service has just returned with limited hours and a set of new safety features.

Didi Chuxing's rival Uber too was accused of technology theft by Google in 2017. Although users continue to grow for ride-hailing services, the operators are yet to prove themselves when it comes to turning the companies into profits.