Baidu unveils next-generation robocar without steering wheel at the annual artificial intelligence conference

July 21, 2022 0 Comments

Chinese search engine giant Baidu unveiled its next-generation autonomous taxis with a detachable steering wheel at the Baidu World 2022 held in Beijing on Wednesday.

The Apollo RT6 robocar equipped with level 4 autonomous driving system, which means no human intervention requires. Autonomous driving is categorized from L1 to L5 – the higher the level, the more intelligent the technology. L5 represents fully autonomous driving.

Image Credit: Baidu

Most autonomous driving technologies at current stage are classified as L2 or L2+.

The vehicle utilizes 38 sensors, including 8 LiDARs and 12 cameras, to obtain accurate, long-range detection on all sides

In order to accelerate autonomous vehicle deployment at scale, Baidu has significantly dropped cost per unit to 250,000 yuan for the new model, compared with 480,000 yuan for the previous generation.

“This massive cost reduction will enable us to deploy tens of thousands of AVs across China. We are moving towards a future where taking a robotaxi will be half the cost of taking a taxi today,” Robin Li, Co-founder and CEO of Baidu, said at Baidu World 2022, the company’s annual artificial intelligence conference.

Baidu aims to deploy a giant fleet of 100,000 new autonomous taxis from next year, then expand its robotaxis service to 65 cities by 2035 and 100 cities by 2030.

In April, Baidu have been given the green light to provide driverless ride-hailing services to the public on open roads in Beijing, becoming the first operator to obtain the approval.

The permit allows Baidu to charge fees on robotaxis in a designated area of 60 square kilometers in in Beijing Yizhuang new town where Baidu runs a pilot zone featuring integrated smart roads, real-time cloud data transmission.

Beijing’s Yizhuang new town is home to the facilities of several tech companies, including, e-commerce company JD.com, Baidu, China’s top chip foundry Semiconductor International Manufacturing Corporation.

Baidu unveiled a prototype robocar and its autonomous ride-hailing service named Luobo Kuaipao at the Baidu World 2021 held in Beijing. At that time, Robin Li, chairman and CEO of Baidu said the vehicles in the future will be more like intelligent robots, which possess advanced autonomous driving technologies, face recognition technology analyzing biological characteristic of users, as well as self-learning and continuous self-improvement abilities.

Baidu, which launched its autonomous driving unit Apollo in 2017, is among a number of tech companies in China striving to commercialize autonomous driving at large scale.

Its rivals in this area include Toyota Motor backed Pony.ai and WeRide, which has received investment from Nissan Motor and Guangzhou Automobile Group.

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