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e-scooters, self-driving automobiles, air ambulance

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(L to R) Edward Xu, CSO of EHang; Jianxiong Xiao, CEO of Auto X; Yan Li, CEO of NIU Technologies and Arjun Kharpal of CNBC converse on the second day the annual East Tech West convention in Nansha, Guangzhou.

Dave Zhong | Getty Images for CNBC

The want for social distancing through the coronavirus pandemic has boosted demand for “individual traveling devices,” in response to Chinese electrical scooter maker Niu Technologies, which has seen its Nasdaq-listed shares surge almost 300% this yr.

The firm’s Chief Executive Yan Li mentioned the pattern is noticed globally: Europe, North America and even in China the place the unfold of Covid-19 has been largely contained. That’s as a result of commuting by way of e-scooters is seen as safer and simpler, in comparison with driving a automotive and taking public transportation, he added.

“After this pandemic, people actually appreciate individual traveling devices as opposed to taking public transportation, partly because of fear, of social distancing,” Li mentioned on Wednesday at CNBC’s annual East Tech West convention within the Nansha district of Guangzhou, China.

“What we observe is people are always looking for a safer, more convenient way of commuting in the city. And that’s actually no different between China and Europe and United States,” he added throughout a panel dialogue moderated by CNBC’s Arjun Kharpal.

Those related components have additionally brought on a shift towards driverless automobiles, mentioned Jianxiong Xiao, founder and CEO of Hong Kong-based self-driving automobile firm AutoX, who spoke on the identical panel dialogue.

He defined {that a} absolutely autonomous automotive saves passengers from having to share area with a driver, which is “even better” and “even safer.”

“So that’s why after the global pandemic, the Chinese population actually [paid] a lot more attention to the robotaxi type of business,” mentioned Xiao, referring to his firm’s self-driving taxi service, which launched a pilot service in Shanghai in August.

In addition to ferrying individuals round, such autonomous automobiles might help ship important items through the pandemic whereas minimizing contact between individuals, mentioned Edward Xu, chief technique officer at EHang, a Chinese producer of autonomous flying automobiles.

During the coronavirus pandemic, the corporate launched an “air ambulance” to assist hospitals transport medical employees and provides throughout emergencies, mentioned Xu, who additionally spoke on the convention.

Despite the advantages of autonomous automobiles, questions round security from the general public and regulators stay a serious hurdle stopping them from turning into mainstream. Both Xiao and Xu mentioned they’re specializing in bettering their respective applied sciences as a result of that is a vital method to make sure security.

Xu added that having back-ups to the varied methods that function EHang’s air taxis is vital to its zero-accident document to date. The firm has examined 6,000 flights with passengers throughout 34 cities in eight nations, he mentioned.

“The back-up is behind our design,” mentioned Xu, including that the ability, navigation and electronics methods “are all backed up” in order that the drones can nonetheless fly safely at any time when one thing goes down.

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