Baidu has entered into a partnership that will allow the Chinese tech giant to build 1,000 autonomous electric vehicles for passenger transportation over the next three years. Its fifth-generation robotaxis will be produced at 480,000 yuan (or nearly 62,424 euros) each, which Baidu says is one-third of the average cost of manufacturing a Level 4 self-driving vehicle.
The announcement made Thursday is an extension of its existing partnership with the local public manufacturer BAIC Group, more specifically with the latter’s Arcfox electric vehicle unit. Previously best known for its search engine, Baidu changed course in 2015 when it began developing autonomous vehicles, testing them on the roads of Beijing and California, United States.
Called Apollo Moon, its next generation of robotaxis would be built on the Arcfox Alpha-T, a fully electric five-seater SUV. The vehicle would be equipped with various sensors, including 13 cameras and five millimeter wave radars, computing unit redundancy functions and fault detection and degradable processing algorithms. It would also come with new features such as a voice assistant powered by artificial intelligence (AI), a mobile temperature control app and smart car doors.
An estimated operating cycle of at least five years
Apollo Moon would run on Baidu’s ANP-Robotaxi architecture, a navigation platform currently in pilot phase that the Chinese vendor claims could reduce the weight of autonomous vehicle kits and generate driving data within an “ecosystem”. closed loop information ”.
Autonomous vehicles have an estimated duty cycle of at least five years, Baidu said, and at a unit manufacturing price of 480,000 yuan, their production cost would be significantly lower than the industry average of 1.5 million. yuan per unit.
This would achieve better scalability and drive the adoption of autonomous transport services in China, the provider said.
More than 200 road test licenses
It would also expand Baidu’s Apollo service to more cities across the country, he added, adding that the robotaxi service was currently available in cities such as Beijing, Shanghai, Guangzhou and Chongqing.
According to Baidu, the cumulative test mileage of its autonomous vehicles is over 12 million kilometers and is increasing by 40,000 kilometers per day. The company claims to have obtained 2,900 smart driving patents and 244 test drive licenses.
In 2017, it opened access to its Apollo autonomous vehicle platform, allowing partners in the automotive industry to develop their own autonomous driving systems. This included access to tools for obstacle perception, path planning, vehicle control and operating systems.