Chinese firm Baidu has secured licences to test its autonomous driving vehicles in designated areas of Beijing.

Five cars powered by Baidu’s Apollo platform will be tested on public roads within the Yizhuang and Daxing districts in the southeast suburbs of Beijing.

Introduced in July last year, the Apollo platform enables its partners to develop their own autonomous driving systems. The platform has been used by more than 90 entities, including original equipment manufacturers (OEM), Tier-1 suppliers, research groups and local governments.

“We hope to work with more partners to pave the way for the full development of autonomous driving.”

Baidu vice-president Zhao Cheng said: “Baidu is committed to building a sustainable, innovative and open autonomous driving ecosystem.

“We hope to work with more partners to pave the way for the full development of autonomous driving, and to build a truly reliable and safe ecosystem for intelligent mobility.

“With supportive policies, we believe that Beijing will become a rising hub for the autonomous driving industry.”

Following the approval, Baidu will be able to test the cars on 33 roads spanning nearly 105km across the less-populated regions of Beijing.

These roads are primarily located outside Beijing’s Fifth Ring Road, in Shunyi, Haidian and Yizhuang.

According to the Beijing Municipal Commission of Transport, vehicles need to complete more than 5,000km of closed-course training before applying for the licence. They must also undergo capability evaluations, which include their ability to abide by traffic rules and handle emergencies.

Furthermore, the safety drivers of these autonomous vehicles need to complete a minimum of 50 hours of training so that they can take control of the cars in an emergency.