How Baidu Apollo Rolls within the AV Business


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Baidu Apollo is the chief and most influential autonomous car (AV) developer in China. Apollo has aggressive targets throughout a number of AV use circumstances — particularly robotaxis. As a pacesetter in AI analysis making use of expertise to AVs, Baidu’s AV analysis started in 2013, whereas the Apollo mission began in early 2017.

Baidu was based in 2000 in Beijing and have become China’s main web–search firm. Baidu went public on the Nasdaq trade in 2005. With whole income topping $19.5 billion and 2021 revenue of greater than $1.6 billion, Baidu has the monetary assets to put money into AVs and robotaxis.

This column seems to be at Baidu’s AV actions, together with a abstract of its July announcement of a robotaxi–centric car. The desk under summarizes Baidu Apollo’s AV actions.

Baidu Apollo

Apollo is Baidu’s open–supply autonomous–driving tech platform that was launched in 2017. The objective is to offer an open and secure answer to allow its companions within the automotive business with autonomous–driving functionality. Apollo is among the world’s most energetic open platforms for autonomous driving, with over 700,000 strains of supply code, 80,000+ builders, and 210+ business companions.

Baidu has over 500 L4 AVs in testing or robotaxi operation. In 2021, Baidu had two AVs testing in California. In 2018 and 2019, Baidu had 4 AVs testing in California.

Baidu’s AV testing reached over 32 million kilometers (20 million miles) by the tip of June. In California, Baidu’s AV checks reached 130,000 miles by the tip of 2021.

Apollo has acquired 593 autonomous–driving take a look at permits in China, together with 398 take a look at permits for passenger transportation.

By the tip of March, Baidu had filed over 3,700 patent purposes. Presently, Baidu ranks first on the planet with over 1,000 excessive–stage autonomous–driving patents.

Apollo is energetic in a number of AV use circumstances, with robotaxis as an important phase. Baidu can also be energetic in creating and testing AVs to be used in mass–transit programs — usually known as robobuses. This contains minibuses, corresponding to Apolong, which has been examined since 2018 in 22 city parks in a number of cities, together with Beijing, Guangzhou, Xiongan, Chongqing and Foshan.

The primary–technology Apolong is the one AV minibus to realize giant–scale operation in China. Apolong collected greater than 120,000 customers and a complete mileage of 120,000 kilometers by August 2021, at which level Apolong II was launched.

Baidu acquired permission to check robobuses in Beijing in late March. Baidu is working with QCraft and SenseTime and can take a look at eight further robobuses in Beijing.

Baidu can also be creating items–solely AVs. These AVs are the idea for particular–function purposes, corresponding to avenue sweepers and related duties.

Apollo Go

Apollo Go is presently obtainable in 10 cities: Beijing, Shanghai, Shenzhen, Guangzhou, Chongqing, Changsha, Cangzhou, Wuhan, Wuzhen and Yangquan. Apollo Go has began commercialized operation in a number of cities. Customers can hail a robotaxi with one faucet in Baidu Maps, Apollo Go’s standalone experience–hailing cellular app, or the Apollo Go mini program on the Baidu app. In April, Baidu acquired the primary allow in China for driverless experience–hailing companies in Beijing.

Apollo Go has offered over 1 million robotaxi rides — largely without cost. Paid robotaxi rides can be found in 4 cities: Beijing, Chongqing, Yangquan and Wuhan (added in early July).

Baidu plans to broaden Apollo Go operations to 65 cities in China by 2025 and 100 cities by 2030.

Baidu has a big AV take a look at web site in Beijing known as Apollo Park. The take a look at space helps AV growth, in addition to 5G and C–V2X expertise testing. Infrastructure to boost AV use is a giant a part of Baidu’s plan to broaden Apollo Go. Baidu will use 5G C–V2X because it deploys robotaxis. Apollo Park has over 200 AVs and may help all points of growth and testing.

Apollo RT6 robotaxi

Baidu Apollo introduced its first function–constructed robotaxi for the Chinese language market on July 21. It’s the sixth technology of robotaxi autos and the supply of its identify, RT6. It’s a battery electrical car (BEV), which is a manufacturing–prepared mannequin. RT6 has a removable steering wheel.

RT6 can be put into operation in China in 2023 on Apollo Go, Baidu’s autonomous experience–hailing service. The desk under summarizes public information on the RT6.

The devoted robotaxi design makes the Apollo RT6 distinct from earlier generations that have been retrofitted for AV use in standard autos. The detachable steering–wheel design offers extra space for distinctive interiors on the conventional driver seat.

The RT6 has L4 autonomous–driving functionality, offered by 1,200 TOPS of computing energy, with an intensive sensor structure that features 38 sensors. Solely the variety of every sensor class was included within the RT6 announcement.

RT6 has eight LiDARs. From the launched photos, it’s clear that solely strong–state LiDARs are used. It’s unlikely that the RT6 makes use of any frequency–modulated, steady–wave (FMCW) LiDARs. FMCW LiDARs are greatest for prime–pace and lengthy–distance views, which presently usually are not wanted.

RT6 has six radars — in all probability solely conventional radars with none 4D or imaging radars. One 4D–imaging radar can be helpful for the ahead–trying radar because of the superior interference rejection in contrast with conventional radars.

The Apollo RT6 exterior options an progressive look that integrates sensors on the sunroof alongside interactive lights. This offered glorious sensor integration, as seen within the under pictures.

Apollo RT6 (Supply: Baidu)
Apollo RT6 (Supply: Apollo RT6)

Apollo RT6 is the primary car mannequin constructed on Xinghe, Baidu’s self–developed automotive EE structure designed particularly for autonomous driving. The RT6 makes use of automotive–grade electronics and has redundancy in each {hardware} and autonomous–driving software program.

Apollo RT6 will be part of the Apollo Go experience–hailing service beginning in 2023. Nonetheless, there isn’t a particular beginning month at the moment.

The manufacturing price of the RT6 is spectacular, at 250,000 RMB (about $37,000). That is half the price of the fifth–technology robotaxi, the Apollo Moon, which is presently utilized in Baidu’s robotaxi companies.

In March 2021, Baidu shaped a three way partnership with Geely known as Jidu to provide BEVs and AVs. In December 2021, Jidu stated it could introduce an idea car in mid–2022 and ship its first mass–produced AV in 2023. In June, Jidu launched a prototype of its first car, known as Robo–1, which has appreciable autonomous options. Jidu says it is going to price about $30,000 and is anticipated to go on sale in 2023. This Wired article comprises extra data on the Robo–1.

It seems the RT6 might be primarily based on the Robo–1 BEV, because the Robo–1 aspect–view image within the Wired article seems to be just like the RT6.

Baidu believes the RT6’s giant price discount will result in deployment of tens of hundreds of AVs throughout China in a number of years. It can additionally result in future robotaxi rides costing half of present taxi rides. Baidu stated it plans to provide 100,000 Apollo RT6 autos over an unspecified time interval.

Baidu included a stunning and doubtless a controversial assertion in its RT6 press launch: The autonomous–driving functionality of the Apollo RT6 is equal to a talented driver with 20 years of expertise.


The Chinese language robotaxi business continues its fast growth and is setting aggressive targets. Baidu Apollo is a pacesetter on this development, however there are many different competent rivals. The robust backing of the Chinese language authorities is a vital think about AV progress. Numerous cities are additionally very supportive, and there’s robust competitors between main cities to steer within the street to perceived future riches on the finish of the rainbow.

Baidu is on the middle of the Apollo open–supply AV growth mission, which continues to realize help from each Chinese language and overseas firms. Baidu’s robotaxi service group, Apollo Go, has 500 AVs in testing or robotaxi operation, with plans for fast growth. The Apollo RT6 robotaxi is the important thing to this development, with plans for tens of hundreds of robotaxis in operation in a number of years. RT6 deployment begins in 2023.

Apollo Go plans are much more enthusiastic, with robotaxi companies in 65 Chinese language cities in 2025, scaling to 100 cities by 2030. This could seemingly require at the least 100,000 robotaxis by 2030 (1,000 per metropolis). When you assume Apollo’s rivals could have about two instances as many robotaxis (Apollo has 33% share), we’re probably speaking about 300,000 robotaxis working in China by 2030.

Is that this an inexpensive or low–likelihood state of affairs? Solely time will inform, however there are a number of useful components in China that aren’t current within the U.S. or Europe. The Chinese language authorities basically decides how briskly robotaxi deployment will occur. AV security is, in fact, a significant factor, however the total crash price in China is far greater than within the U.S. and Europe. Therefore, robotaxis and AVs generally can decrease the car crash charges in China with out matching AV crash–security charges required or tolerated within the U.S. and Europe.

Moreover, any AV crash fatalities within the U.S. and Europe can be entrance–web page tales and can negatively impression the AV business. In China, not a lot. The lengthy–time period targets are extra necessary than quick–time period destructive impression, and China is satisfied that AV expertise will convey main benefits starting from financial to constructive human impression.

China will decrease the AV dangers by solely permitting robotaxi operation in elements of cities — the elements the place visitors and roads are amenable to secure operation. The areas of robotaxi operation will broaden with time and as AV system functionality advances. The incorporation of 5G–primarily based C–V2X may even add to AV security in China as deployment of C–V2X for all autos expands rapidly.


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