Baidu has obtained 40 licenses to test self-driving cars on the roads of Beijing. Its driverless cars have already covered up the distance more than three million kilometers (or about 1.8 million miles) during tests in 23 Chinese cities to date, up from 2 million kilometers (roughly 1.2 million miles) across 13 cities as of July.
For the testing of self-driving cars, Beijing has allotted 151 roads with a length of more than 500 kilometers, the roads will be closed for the public during the test. Five levels have been nominated for self-driving test permits ranging from T1 to T5, which is somehow similar to the automation levels issued by the Society of Automotive Engineers.
“Beijing’s achievements in the field of autonomous driving are obvious to all, and it is also about the development of China’s autonomous driving industry. Baidu will strictly abide by the relevant road test management regulations, fully ensure the safety of road tests, and continuously improve its self-driving technology, so that a simpler and better transportation life will come soon”, Zhang Dongchen, Baidu Vice President, talked about the company’s commitment to road safety.
Round the Clock Partners
Recently, Baidu engaged with a strategic partnership with Geely to equip the Hangzhou, China-based automaker’s cars with DuerOS for Apollo, a set of AI-based IoV solutions with a voice assistant, augmented reality, and motion detection capabilities. To utilize the self-driving vehicles in the human capital, the company has joined hands with Chinese state-owned car company FAW Group, that manufactured the Hongqi line of luxury cars.
Other automotive partners include Ford, with which it started last year on a two-year project to test driverless vehicles on the Chinese roads. Baidu also engaged in a deal with Volvo to develop autonomous electric cars for the Chinese market, and in July 2017, it launched the ‘Apollo Fund’ which is a $1.52 billion driving funds. This is the part of a wider plan to invest in 100 autonomous driving projects over the next three years.
Apollo Go and Apollo 5.0
The latest version of Baidu’s open-source autonomous driving platform, that was launched in April 2017. It allows dynamic evaluation for vehicles in just 30 minutes via the cloud at a rate of 100 vehicles per minute, and it will be a cost-effective method for transforming traditional parking facilities into smart infrastructure.
Baidu claims that the Apollo-based intelligent solutions have lent a helping hand to diminish the traffic by 20-30% in big cities like Baoding, Hebei, etc. furthermore, it mentioned that the Apollo family now spans 156 partners, more than 60 brands, and over 300 vehicle models. Some remarkable collaborators include Chinese automobile manufacturers Chery, BYD Auto, and Great Wall, in addition to Hyundai Kia, Ford, and VM Motori.
According to Baidu, Apollo’s code from the project’s GitHub repository, now being tested, contributed to or deployed by big-name brands like Intel, Nvidia, and NXP.
Baidu and its rivals like Tencent and Alibaba are racing toward a veritable goldmine of a market. In April, Alibaba committed that it has been conducting self-driving cars test with the goal of achieving Level 4 autonomous capability. And in May, Tencent also secured a license from the Chinese government to start testing autonomous cars in Shenzhen, China.
As stated by the McKinsey report, in China autonomous vehicles and mobility services are expected to be worth more than $500 billion by 2030, when approximately 8 million self-driving cars hit public roads.