Chinese artificial intelligence (AI) giant Baidu decided Wednesday to share an open, complete and reliable software platform with its partners in the automotive and autonomous driving industry to help upgrade the sector.
Through the Apollo project, Baidu will build a collaborative ecosystem using its strength in AI technology to work with other companies to promote the development and popularization of autonomous driving technology.
The Apollo project provides platforms for vehicles, hardware, software and cloud data services and Baidu will share resources and capabilities in obstacle perception, trajectory planning, vehicle control, operating systems and other functions, as well as a complete set of testing tools.
Baidu will first introduce its autonomous driving technology in restricted environments in July, then expand to cars running autonomously on simple urban road conditions toward the end of the year. It will gradually introduce fully autonomous driving capabilities on highways and open city roads by 2020.
The company will work with partners with the best and most compatible vehicles, sensors, and other components and offer references and recommendations to participants.
"AI has great potential to drive social development, and one of AI's biggest opportunities is intelligent vehicles," said Lu Qi, Group President and Chief Operating Officer at Baidu.
Baidu has been investing in R&D for autonomous driving technology since 2015. It conducted successful road tests for its fully autonomous cars on the highways and roads of Beijing in late 2015 and finished open trial operations of its autonomous car fleet in late 2016 at the World Internet Conference in Wuzhen, Zhejiang Province, where over 200 guest passengers rode in the cars.
Baidu is the first among the major global autonomous driving players to open its technology and platform to the industry.
"An open, innovative industry ecosystem will accelerate the development of autonomous driving in the United States and other developed automotive markets, and through open technology our technological achievements can be quickly applied to a wide range of fields and accelerate even more achievements," Lu added.