Autonomous vehicles are no longer just a concept. Thanks to technological advancement, companies inside and outside the automobile industry appear to be in the race to come up with the best self-driving vehicles.
Baidu is one of the companies that have made a buzz as far as pursuing this undertaking is concerned. In fact, it recently joined hands with Softbank to create 10 cars to ferry passengers in select cities in Japan.
According to Bloomberg, self-driving minibuses from Baidu are anticipated to hit the roads in Japan by the start of 2019. What’s more, reports from Engadget hint that such buses could be available in several cities in China.
Bloomberg also said that the technology company revealed during its annual developers’ conference that it had ramped up its manufacturing activities. Baidu is expected to roll out the minibuses in Japan thanks to its collaboration with SB Drive, which is Softbank’s independent public-transportation subsidiary.
Baidu has begun the mass-production of its level 4 self-driving mini-buses with the objective of rolling them out not only in China but also in other nations including Japan as the priority.
The tech giant’s partnership with Softbank’s subsidiary SB Drive will see the entry of the autonomous buses in Japan by next year. In fact, the companies are expected to deliver 10 Apolong mini-buses to Tokyo and other cities in Japan after their debut in various cities in China such as Wuhan, Pingtan, Shenzhen and Beijing.
Furthermore, the 14-seater mini-buses are expected to begin operation by picking passengers in airports, industrial campuses, parks, tourist areas among other geo-fenced areas.
Bloomberg said that Baidu is currently collaborating with Chinese bus-maker King Long to make the 14-seater buses, which are known as Apolong. Even so, the report revealed that the company has already manufactured 100 of them.
The National Highway Traffic Safety Administration (NHTSA) emphasized that the buses will feature level 4 self-driving capabilities, which exempt the need for a driver within a particular geographical area.
The newest version of Baidu’s self-driving platform, Apollo, which was announced at the conference, not only supports valet parking but also works harmoniously with Baidu’s software. Aside from having facial recognition capabilities, the software can detect whether a driver is projecting fatigue signs.
What’s more, an Intel Press release unveiled that the technology giant intends to integrate a safety model, computer vision software and cameras from Mobileye, which is an Intel subsidiary.
Intel, a globally renowned tech company, acquired 84 percent of Mobileye’s shares for a staggering $15.3 billion. The deal made the Israel based company Intel’s subsidiary.
Thanks to the partnership between Baidu and Mobileye, the Chinese tech giant will be in a position to leverage Mobileye’s technologies including its Responsibility Sensitive Safety Model. Baidu described the feature as decision making, which is based on common sense human-related knowledge of what it entails to avoid accidents and drive safely.
In addition, the tech giant will also utilize Mobileye’s Surround Computer Vision Kit, as its ideal perception solution, particularly for its Apollo self-driving platform.