Waymo is widely seen as the leader in self-driving cars, but it’s struggling to officially launch an autonomous taxi service in the US.

In China, a self-driving taxi service launched this week – albeit with plenty of strings attached.

Three self-driving taxis went on the road in Guangzhou this week, accepting online orders from the public with a starting fare of 12 yuan (US$1.73).

The cars were made by startup WeRide.ai (formerly named JingChi.ai) and operated by Guangzhou Public Transportation Group.

And despite claims that the cars are “Level 4” autonomous vehicles – able to run without a human behind the wheel – all the cars have drivers sitting in the front seat, just in case.

Still, that a year-old startup can put self-driving cars on public roads at all speaks to why China may overtake the US in AI one day.

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