Intel has finally gotten yet another shot in showcasing off its technology – and this time it’s with robot cars. This is observed when Intel has become one of the official partners of Baidu’s Apollo program, where the company aims to make robot cars. With other companies such as Japan’s SoftBank into the mix, just what does this mean for Intel’s tech and potential?
When Baidu, affectionately coined as the “Google of China,” suddenly declares that Apollo is gearing up as the “Android” of the automotive industry, a lot of heads are certainly going to to be turned. Interestingly, this is exactly what Baidu is doing with the open-source platform Apollo. In fact, Baidu and Apollo have started to acquire partners worldwide, including NVIDIA, Daimler, and Ford. And it appears Intel is next on its list, and this is quite the opportunity for Intel to simply ignore.
For Intel, this is quite a huge opportunity to simply ignore – after all, this is their opportunity to showcase their advanced vision software and technology from its Mobileye unit.
Baidu will be able to integrate Mobileye’s Responsibility Sensitive Safety software into both its commercial Apollo pilot programs and its open-source Apollo platform shared with other companies. Interestingly, Baidu will be able to use Mobileye’s camera-based computer vision system for other vehicles that are being created for the Chinese market.
Weihao Gu of the Intelligent Driving Unit of Baidu said Mobileye’s RSS model would be able to have a big role to play in establishing Baidu’s presence in the auto industry. Baidu also added that it’s begun the production of Apolong mini-buses that are capable of having Level 4 autonomous capability.
These buses, developed with King Long, can hold up to 14 passengers and may be able to get into commercial operation in cities such as Wuhan, Pingtan, Shenzhen, and Beijing. Interestingly, Baidu is also in cooperation with King Long and the SD Drive of Japan-based firm SoftBank in order to deploy the shuttles in cities like Tokyo.
Robin Li, Baidu’s CEO and Chairman, said their improvements make 2018 the first year of the commercialization of auto-driving vehicles.
It can be remembered that Apollo made quite the noise in the realm of the auto industry after unveiling Apollo 1.5, which is the latest in its autonomous driving platforms. This new version is much more powerful, now outfitted with deep learning technologies, obstacle detection, LiDAR, and even HD maps. All of these, in Apollo spirit, are modular and open source – meaning, developers can choose and pick features they want to use in their own systems.
However, it’s not completely open. At some point, developers in the program will have to contribute in some fashion to the platform in order to get access to more data for their respective needs. After all, why build your program on top of others’ work without being more active in the community?
Regardless, Baidu appears to have more plans with this new partnership in Apollo. If all goes according to plan, Baidu may be able to get itself a Level 3 autonomous car out on the road in as early as 2019, with Level 4 ready for 2021. This allows cars to actually be able to drive autonomously, albeit in special conditions. While this is not fully automated driving yet, this is still quite impressive for Baidu, which is not even a car-building company, to be directly rivaling its United States counterpart in the race for autonomous vehicles.
Interestingly, China appears to have placed quite a priority to become a leading figure in terms of autonomous driving and artificial intelligence. By the time the Apolong shuttles will be deployed in specialized areas without human drivers, other carmakers in cooperating with Apollo can now proceed to make better robotic vehicles, vans, and cars.
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