We pay a lot of attention to autonomous vehicle testing in the US (especially with Tesla cars), but we also want to follow advances in other countries, including China. The Google of China, Baidu, has been given permission to provide fully commercial autonomous ride-hailing services in two Chinese cities, which is being hailed as a world first.
Wei Dong, vice president and chief safety officer of Baidus Intelligent Driving Group, called this a significant qualitative change. We have now reached the point that the industry has been waiting for when fully autonomous cars are giving paid passengers rides on public highways. We think that these licenses mark a significant turning point in the industry’s ability to offer completely autonomous driving services on a large scale.
The approvals now allow Baidu’s autonomous ride-hailing service Apollo Go to accept payments for robotaxi rides totally without human drivers in the car in Chongqing and Wuhan, two of China’s biggest megacities. As AVs continue to proliferate across China, the authorities show a high level of confidence in the power of Baidus’ self-driving technology. Additionally, the declaration of a cooperation with Didi Chuxing represents a crucial turning point for China’s transportation future by opening the door to the widespread use of driverless ride-hailing in the nation.
The testing and licensing process for Baidus robotaxis included several stages, from testing with a safety operator in the driver’s seat to testing with a safety operator in the passenger seat to finally being granted permission to operate without a human driver or operator inside.
Local governments in Wuhan and Chongqing’s Yongchuan District granted the permissions to Baidu. Both cities have been on the cutting edge in recent years when it comes to upgrading AV regulations and building new infrastructure.
With five Apollo 5th generation robots operating in each city, Baidu has been granted the appropriate permissions and will be will begin providing fully driverless robotaxi services in Wuhan’s authorized zones from 9 a.m. to 5 p.m. and Chongqing from 9:30 a.m. to 4:30 p.m. The service area is 13 square kilometers in Wuhan’s Economic and Technological Development Zone and 30 square kilometers in Chongqing’s Yongchuan District.
The first autonomous vehicles in China, including Google’s Waymo and Uber, to receive a range of permissions from two megacities are Baidus’. They have multilayer mechanisms to ensure absolute safety, including an autonomous driving system, monitoring redundancy, remote driving capability, and a robust safety operation system, all of which are supported by a sizable data repository with real-world data that Baidus AVs have gathered over 32 million kilometers (roughly 20 million miles).
According to Baidu, with 4,000 applications submitted overall, it will have the most autonomous driving patents in China by the end of March 2022. There are around 1,500 high-level autonomous driving global patent families among them. Apollo Go, which recently passed one million orders, is currently the largest robotaxi service provider in the world and has now expanded to all first-tier Chinese cities.
This video shows the service in use:
BAIDUS FUTURE ROBOTAXIS: MORE INFORMATION Tesla struggled as a new entrant into a crowded and established sector because Baidu’s key advantage in the autonomous car business has been software and computer hardware, but the company didn’t want to become involved with automobile manufacturing.
Due of this, Geely and Baidu partnered (pronounced GEE-lee with a g as in giraffe, not g as in gut). The resulting partnership, which combines the Gee from Geely and the DU from Baidu, is now known as JIDU (JI-du). To make the new name indicate concentration, they substituted a different character for the Ji portion.
From the ground up, the LIDU was created to be an entirely autonomous vehicle. It has a steering wheel, but when it drives itself, it folds down beneath the dash to free up more space inside. It features additional LED lights that are arranged in a matrix arrangement to improve communication with other drivers. Additionally, it has voice recognition software that enables it to alert anyone within and surrounding the car of any important information in addition to issuing commands to the vehicle. When the car states I am Robo One (in Mandarin) at the end of the film, it serves as a reminder that there are other ways to make unmanned vehicles function.
According to the manufacturer, the car was also created to be a useful car for independent driving. While the majority of autonomous car initiatives, such as Argo.ai or Waymo, have enormous, amusing-looking sensors protruding from everywhere. In the Robo-01, similar to how a gas cap might be concealed behind closed doors, such sensors can fold away.
Consequently, you would feel less awkward driving it manually to a social event. However, this also serves as a safety measure because collapsing sensors before a pedestrian collision (at least one that cannot be avoided) can assist shield individuals from injury.
According to Xia Yiping, CEO of JIDU, the Intelligent Car 3.0 Era is the age of the robot cars. The transition to this new era is characterized by the substitution of artificial intelligence (AI) for human drivers, leading to the eventual development of self-generating robocars. In the 3.0 age, the car industry will see a seismic shift from an energy revolution to a revolution in product qualities. Realizing a totally driverless transportation experience is the ultimate objective. The JIDU robocar intends to satisfy modern consumers’ expectations for intelligent transport, intelligent support inside the vehicle, and intelligent cabin.
My contact at Baidu claims that I will soon be able to meet Robo One in the US, but it’s not clear if he or someone similar would travel on US roads. After getting regulatory approval from the state earlier this year, they have already started certain testing activities in California. Look for a family member of Robo One’s SUV in Sunnyvale that has the word “apollo” written on its side.
In either case, in the upcoming years, Baidu is anticipated to be one of the key players in the global autonomous vehicle market.
Featured picture courtesy of Baidu.
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