Baidu announced today at its annual flagship technology conference, Baidu World, the volume production plans of China’s first Level 4 (L4) Hongqi autonomous vehicles, in collaboration with automobile manufacturers, as well as its smart transportation solutions.
“The era for autonomous passenger vehicles is upon us, but having only smart cars are not enough. We must also have smart roads. By leveraging our capabilities in autonomous driving and AI technologies, we can develop comprehensive solutions that will greatly improve the efficiency of urban cities,” said Robin Li, Chairman and CEO of Baidu.
China’s First L4 Autonomous Passenger Cars
In partnership with FAW Group, one of China’s largest automobile manufacturers and developer of Hongqi, Baidu unveiled China’s first Hongqi L4 autonomous passenger vehicle at Baidu World. A limited number of Hongqi L4 vehicles, powered by Baidu’s Apollo autonomous driving platform, will be launched for testing and pilot operations as early as next year, beginning in a number of cities including Beijing and Changchun.
Launched in July 2017, the Apollo autonomous driving open platform has brought together 131 global partners. Earlier this year, working with Chinese bus manufacturer Xiamen King Long, Baidu began volume productions of Apolong, China’s first L4 autonomous mini-buses.
Apolong buses have been running in over 10 locations throughout China. The latest partnerships and advancements further consolidate Apollo’s position as one of the largest and most vibrant autonomous driving communities in the world.
Autonomous Driving Taxis and Smart Cities
Baidu is set to launch a fleet of autonomous driving taxis next year for pilot operations in Changsha, the capital city of Hunan province in the south central region of China. The fleet of over 100 vehicles will be China’s first group of autonomous driving taxis managed by the Apollo Intelligent Vehicle Infrastructure Cooperative System (IVICS), a comprehensive solution that integrates smart vehicles and intelligent road infrastructure for safer deployment of autonomous cars. The system allows autonomous vehicles to better communicate with traffic lights.
Apart from IVICS, Baidu has also launched a series of smart transportation services including Valet Parking. It has also put forward the plans of ACE—Autonomous Driving, Connected Roads and Efficient City.
Baidu is currently negotiating with the municipal governments of Beijing and Shanghai to provide AI-powered city management solutions, which are geared towards solving problems in urban safety, traffic congestions, and public parking, using Baidu Brain, Baidu Cloud, and autonomous driving technologies.