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In China, a self-driving car detects a person crossing a red light – a challenge for AI

In China, a self-driving car detects a person crossing a red light – a challenge for AI
In China, a self-driving car detects a person crossing a red light – a challenge for AI

A self-driving car from a ride-sharing service in China has hit a pedestrian. People on social media are siding with the car manufacturer because the person allegedly drove through a red light.

BEIJING — A pedestrian was hit by a self-driving ride-sharing vehicle in China, and people on social media are now siding with the automaker because the person reportedly drove through a red light.

The vehicle’s operator, Chinese technology giant Baidu, said in a statement to Chinese media that the car drove off when the traffic light turned green and came into slight contact with the pedestrian. The person was taken to a hospital, where an examination found no obvious external injuries, Baidu said.

Sunday’s incident in the city of Wuhan shows the challenge that autonomous driving faces in complex situations, according to Chinese financial news portal Yicai, citing an expert as saying that the technology may reach its limits when faced with unconventional behavior such as other vehicles or pedestrians violating traffic rules.

Images posted online show a person sitting on the road in front of the self-driving car with its roof sensors. Comments on social media were mostly supportive of Baidu and pointed out that the pedestrian had broken the law, the English-language newspaper Shanghai Daily said in a post on X.

Beijing-based search engine and AI company Baidu is leading the development of autonomous driving in China. Its largest “robotaxi” operation, with a fleet of 300 cars, is in Wuhan, a major city in central China that saw the world’s first major outbreak of COVID-19 in early 2020.

Apollo Go, as the ride-hailing service is called, also operates in smaller parts of three other Chinese cities – Beijing, Shenzhen and Chongqing. The company launched the sixth generation of its self-driving taxi in May and said it had cut the unit price by more than half to under $30,000.

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