2018 is the year. Baidu’s autonomous bus will hit Chinese roads as a giant step towards driving automation.
In recent years the Chinese companies that sound the most abroad are Tencent and Alibaba. They are two giants with an infinity of ramifications, which go far beyond social networks and e-commerce, their two original businesses. Baidu , perhaps the first of the three BAT (acronym invented as equivalence to the GLASSES of Silicon Valley) has a lower resonance.
However, Baidu’s AI effort deserves its own chapter. In this case it materializes in autonomous vehicles. The company has announced that mass production of its Apolong autonomous bus has begun. He has already manufactured 100 units of it and many more will come.
Baidu has indicated that it has partners in Beijing, Shenzhen, Wuhan and other Chinese cities to take the Apolong to the roads. In principle it will be intended for short trips, such as ‘last mile’, at tourist sites or around the airport.
The Apolong, an electric bus as well as autonomous, can travel 100 kilometers on a single charge, which takes two hours to complete. Its maximum speed is 70 km / h and can carry up to 14 people inside.
The bus arrives this year on Chinese roads with a striking configuration. Is level 4 of autonomy, which enables you to driving without human supervision. This means that the manufacturer has not bothered to put on a steering wheel or brake and accelerator pedals.
China as a spearhead in autonomous vehicles
Baidu’s commitment to artificial intelligence it is a reflection of China’s own bet. The country has taken this technology seriously and has a plan that will lead it to lead this field internationally. The Apolong is a symbol of these ambitions and the spearhead to carry it out.
The Baidu bus is expected to be marketed soon in other countries. An alliance with the Japanese conglomerate Softbank it will allow 10 Apolong to circulate in Japan on a trial basis in 2019. It will only be the beginning, as the company also intends to manufacture autonomous cars.
The facilities offered by the Chinese government to test and implement these types of technologies are providential. As far as the autonomous car is concerned, the green light has already been given to this type of vehicle in the country.
Images: hans-johnson, Baidu