Baidu opens up autonomous driving platform Apollo
Chinese search engine giant Baidu has announced a new autonomous vehicle platform that could help car makers produce self-driving vehicles faster.
Dubbed Project Apollo, the platform allows Baidu's partners to develop own autonomous driving systems with reference vehicles and hardware platform.
Baidu aims to leverage its artificial intelligence (AI) technology and to work with other companies in developing autonomous driving technology.
Baidu group president and COO Qi Lu said: "AI has great potential to drive social development, and one of AI's biggest opportunities is intelligent vehicles."
The name Apollo has been taken from NASA’s lunar landing program. The Chinese search-engine giant said that autonomous driving is similar to the lunar landing program, which was ground-breaking during its day.
The project aims to provide a complete solution to autonomous driving including the hardware, software solutions along with cloud data services.
The company plans to take inputs from open source for certain elements of autonomous driving such as obstacle perception, trajectory planning, vehicle control, vehicle operating system and other functions.
Baidu also stated that it will form alliance with those partners who are able to provide the most compatible vehicles, sensors and other components.
The company initially plans to open its restricted environment of the self-driving technology, this July and it will then share the technology for cars running autonomously in simple urban road conditions by the end of this year. It will later on introduce fully autonomous vehicles on highways and city roads by 2020.
Qi Lu said: "China is the world's largest market for automotive sales and production. It has many car brands and an open environment that is ripe for collaboration. 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.
“An open, innovative industry ecosystem initiated by Baidu will accelerate the development of autonomous driving in the US and other developed automotive markets. In addition, through open technology our technological achievements can be quickly applied to a wide range of fields -- and accelerate even more achievements. This is a great opportunity for those talent dedicated in autonomous driving."
Since 2015, Baidu has been developing autonomous driving technology. In 2016, it received permission to test autonomous vehicles from the California State and conducted open trials in November.
Image: Baidu starts open source autonomous vehicle platform, Project Apollo. Photo: Courtesy of MarketWired.