Baidu’s New “Project Apollo” Opens Its Self-Driving Vehicle Tech Platform

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The China-based tech giant Baidu is opening up its self-driving vehicle tech platform to partners in the sector through a new project dubbed “Apollo,” according to a new press release.

The new project will reportedly provide “an open, complete, and reliable software platform for its partners in the automotive and autonomous driving industry,” with the intent being to help those partners develop their own self-driving vehicle systems and hardware with a point of reference. The point here is to create a “collaborative ecosystem” that leads to the development and commercialization of self-driving vehicle tech, while utilizing Baidu’s “strengths in artificial intelligence (AI) technology.”

The Group President and Chief Operating Officer (COO) of Baidu, Qi Lu, commented: “AI has great potential to drive social development, and one of AI’s biggest opportunities is intelligent vehicles.”

For those wondering about the project name, it’s apparently intended as a reference to the Apollo lunar landing program, and is meant to evoke the intent and potential of that project.

The press release provides more:

“The ‘Apollo’ project provides a complete hardware and software service solution that includes a vehicle platform, hardware platform, software platform and cloud data services. Baidu will open source code and capabilities in obstacle perception, trajectory planning, vehicle control, vehicle operating systems, and other functions, as well as a complete set of testing tools.

“The company will also initiate a partnership alliance, working with partners who will provide the best and most compatible vehicles, sensors, and other components, to achieve broad participation and collaboration and to provide references and recommendations to participants of a rapidly expanding ecosystem enabled by Project Apollo. This will lower the barriers to entry for research and development of autonomous driving technologies, making it more accessible to the general public, and accelerate the overall pace of innovation.

“Baidu will first open its autonomous driving technology for restricted environment in July; it will then share its technology for cars running autonomously in simple urban road conditions towards the end of the year; and, finally, it will gradually introduce fully autonomous driving capabilities on highways and open city roads over time by 2020.”

With regard to the company’s partners, as referenced above, they include the auto manufacturers Chery and NextEV (the NIO brand), as well as various parts suppliers and others.

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James Ayre

James Ayre's background is predominantly in geopolitics and history, but he has an obsessive interest in pretty much everything. After an early life spent in the Imperial Free City of Dortmund, James followed the river Ruhr to Cofbuokheim, where he attended the University of Astnide. And where he also briefly considered entering the coal mining business. He currently writes for a living, on a broad variety of subjects, ranging from science, to politics, to military history, to renewable energy.

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