Aiming to catalyze the development process of autonomous self-driving technology, Chinese search engine Baidu plans to open its technology up for vehicles in restricted environments by July of this year. This comes as part of their new project Apollo, which provides a complete hardware and software service solution that includes a vehicle platform, hardware platform, software platform and cloud data services. The company claims that the project would make the technology more accessible to the general public and accelerate the overall pace of innovation.
“Baidu took the initiative to open our autonomous driving technology to the industry in order to encourage greater innovation and opportunities, making better use of our technology to drive the evolution of the entire industry,” said Qi Lu, Baidu’s Group President and Chief Operating Officer.
Providing an open, complete and reliable software platform for its partners in the automotive and autonomous driving industry in China as well as overseas, Baidu would empower these companies to develop their own autonomous driving systems with reference vehicles and hardware platforms. Moreover, Baidu will open source code and capabilities in obstacle perception, trajectory planning, vehicle control, vehicle operating systems and other functions, as well as a complete set of testing tools.
“Artificial Intelligence (AI) has great potential to drive social development, and one of AI’s biggest opportunities is intelligent vehicles,” Qi Lu added.
That being said, Baidu seems to be rooting for the Godfathership of ‘AI’s biggest opportunities’ – the autonomous driving industry. The Chinese firm is aiming to build a collaborative ecosystem, utilizing its strengths in AI technology to work together with other companies on promoting the development and popularization of autonomous driving technology.
In further efforts to reduce obstacles in the way of research and development processes of autonomous driving technologies, the company will initiate a partnership alliance, working with partners which Baidu guarantees would provide the best and most compatible vehicles, sensors, and other components, to achieve broad participation and collaboration as well as to provide references and recommendations to participants of Project Apollo’s rapidly expanding environment.
In 2016, the Society of Automotive Engineers of China issued a 450-page roadmap with the aim of having highly or fully autonomous vehicles on sale in the world’s biggest auto market by as early as 2021. According to Qi Lu, China is the world’s largest market for automotive sales and production, mainly because of its wealth of car brands, making the country one of frontline runners in the race towards autonomous technology. The country will host the Autonomous Vehicle Summit on April 24 in Shanghai.