Chinese automakers are investing a lot of money in assisted driving technology. Baidu and Geely are among those quick to bet on making assisted driving a reality.
Jidu, an electric vehicle company controlled by Baidu and co-funded by Chinese automaker Geely, has unveiled a concept car it says is 90% what buyers could buy for around $30,000 next year. .
Joe Xia, the CEO of the joint venture, which was created nearly a year ago after Baidu and Geely entered into a partnership, recently said, “It’s a car and, more than that, a robot. We use a concept car to quickly prove our design and idea at the initial stage.”
While explaining the prototype of Jidu’s first vehicle, the CEO said that the dashboard has been replaced with a long screen that spans the entire front of the car, and the cockpit buttons have been removed because the driver can use voice control instead.
This futuristic-looking, largely autonomous hatchback is called Robo-1. According to the company, it will cost at least $30,000 and will go on sale next year, according to the company.
Xia also noted that Jidu could become the gold standard for self-driving automobiles. But she gave no further details on the level of driver assistance software that will be included in the vehicle.
However, according to reports, the vehicle is equipped with sensors, including a lidar that rises from the hood when activated and maps the road in 3D.
Jidu also claimed that the final model of the Robo-1 will be 90% identical to the one shown in Beijing, although she did not reveal what aspects might change.
Jidu’s vehicle is expected to use a customized version of Apollo, an open platform built by Baidu and numerous partners, which is used by dozens of automakers in China. It has also been said that the future car will be able to drive itself on most roads while being supervised by a driver.
As of April, Baidu claims Apollo has racked up more than 16.7 million miles of supervised autonomous driving. Xia compares the computing power used by Baidu to train self-driving algorithms to the dedicated supercomputer used by Tesla to perfect its software, Autopilot.
Additionally, Jidu said it will strive to improve the car’s functionality regularly by providing regular software updates via mobile connection.
It is understood that Baidu’s foray into the automotive industry with Jidu is also an indication of the growth of China’s IT industry. Experts say consumers expect an app-like experience in their car, and most major Chinese internet companies are creating automotive technologies in one way or another.
It should be noted that Baidu’s foray into the electric vehicle sector is part of CEO Robin Li’s efforts to divert the company’s attention from advertising and into new areas of growth such as autonomous driving and artificial intelligence.
In China, there is a growing trend of technology companies entering the electric vehicle market.
Xiaomi said last year that it plans to invest $10 billion in its own electric car industry over the next ten years, with the hope of starting mass production in the first half of 2024. Meanwhile, telecommunications giant Huawei has worked with manufacturers on issues such as in-car software and autonomous driving.
While Chinese regulators have yet to allow fully self-driving cars on most roads, companies such as Baidu and others are collecting data through their robotaxi operations. This data can help improve self-driving technology algorithms, while building a track record in support of potential regulatory changes.
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