Baidu to Speed up Installation of Apollo Self-driving System in Mass-produced Cars

Baidu Senior Corporate Vice President Li Zhenyu (pictured) said the firm expects have Apollo pre-installed on more mass-produced car models this year. (Source: Baidu)

Chinese search engine and AI giant Baidu Inc plans to have its Apollo autonomous driving system pre-installed in at least one mass-produced car model each month in the second half of 2021, with a target of at least six car models in total, the company announced on Monday.

The firm also aims to have Apollo’s solutions pre-installed in one million vehicles over the next three to five years, Baidu Senior Corporate Vice President Li Zhenyu told reporters at the 2021 Shanghai Auto Show. This year is Baidu’s first time as an independent exhibitor at the event.

Baidu’s Apollo intelligent driving solutions often take the spotlight in demonstrating the company’s prowess in smart transportation, and Monday’s event was no exception.

According to Li, mileage of road testing for L4 autonomous driving has exceeded 10 million kilometers, making Baidu the first Chinese company to reach this milestone. Its Apollo autonomous driving simulation test has surpassed one billion kilometers, while high-precision maps have been updated every minute.

Baidu’s current Apollo autonomous driving solution for carmakers such as Weltmeister, Toyota, Geely, Ford and GAC, includes the vision-based Apollo Navigation Pilot (ANP) and Apollo Valet Parking (AVP). These intelligent systems allow vehicles to travel safely in cities with complex road conditions like Beijing, Shanghai and Guangzhou, the company said.

In the specific case of Guangzhou, Baidu has completed the first phase of a smart transportation project involving the deployment of Apollo V2X (vehicle-to-everything) smart road infrastructure and Apollo Mobility as a Service (MaaS) during the Chinese New Year holiday period.

Covering 102 intersections in Guangzhou’s Huangpu district and utilizing a fleet of five different model types including Apollo Robotaxis and Robobuses, the initiative allows local commuters to hail smart transport services on demand using either Baidu Maps or the Apollo Go app.

Baidu announced at the event that it plans to bring ANP to urban roads and highways in 20 cities this year and 100 cities by 2023.

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The Nasdaq-listed firm also announced upgrades to its intelligent cloud solutions that can help auto companies developing autonomous vehicles to shorten their R&D cycle from the current seven years to just six months.

The upgraded solutions can help partners “enhance their production process, understand users and car security … auto companies will be able to accelerate the development of their autonomous driving technology and mass production plans,” Baidu said, adding that it has entered a strategic collaboration with Chery Automobile as part of the company’s wider efforts to assist partners in developing AI production lines.

This year, Baidu will also be expanding its team, with 90% of new hires to be dedicated to R&D, Li said.

“The move will help accelerate the large-scale deployment of Baidu’s Robotaxi business, Apollo GO, and the development of solutions that fit the evolving demand amid the push for commercialization of autonomous driving,” he said.