Baidu, Inc. recently displayed Fully Automated Driving during Baidu World 2020, which is the company’s annual technology conference that was held in cooperation with CCTV. With Apollo’s new Fully Automated Driving capability, the AI system can independently drive without a security driver inside the vehicle, a breakthrough which will accelerate the large-scale deployment of autonomous driving technology across China.
“The three core components of Apollo’s Fully Automated Driving technology are pre-installed and mass-produced vehicles, the ‘experienced AI driver’, and the 5G Remote Driving Service,” said Zhenyu Li during the demonstration. With pre-installed and mass-produced vehicles as the foundation, the AI driving system is now capable of operating the vehicles independently, and the 5G Remote Driving Service allows remote human operators to intervene in case of emergencies.
Apollo’s leading technology in pre-installed and mass-produced vehicles is a key precondition for Fully Automated Driving. In 2019, Baidu partnered with FAW Group and jointly developed Hongqi EV robotaxi, the first pre-installed and mass-produced robotaxi in China, which has since been deployed in unmanned driving tests in multiple cities including Beijing, Changsha, Guangzhou, Chongqing, and Cangzhou. Compared with modified models, pre-installed and mass-produced vehicles better guarantee consistency and safety.
Apollo has also released its fifth-generation autonomous driving kit, and the first pre-installed and mass-produced vehicles that meet the requirements for fully automated operations will be launched soon. With each new generation of Apollo vehicles, the cost will be halved while performance will increase by tenfold, said Zhenyu Li.
The “experienced AI driver” refers to the capacity of the AI system to control the vehicle independent of a human driver. Apollo has completed over six million kilometers of road testing with a record low of zero accidents. Having carried over 100,000 passengers across 27 cities around the world, Apollo’s “experienced AI driver” is well-trained. It is capable of handling various technological challenges of unmanned driving and solving the overwhelming majority of possible issues on the road.
The 5G Remote Driving Service is an indispensable complement to the “experienced AI driver” and allows human operators to remotely access vehicles in the case of exceptional emergencies. Powered by smart transportation systems, vehicle-to-everything (V2X) technologies, and the high bandwidth and response speed of 5G networks, the 5G Remote Driving Service is engaged instantaneously to provide immediate assistance from remote human operators when the user or the system switches to parallel driving mode. All remote human operators have completed over 1,000 hours of cloud-based driving training without any accidents, so they can ensure the safety of passengers and pedestrians under the non-autonomous driving mode. As the “experienced AI driver” can handle most road conditions, extreme occasions which require human intervention are rare. Hence, one remote human operator will be able to manage multiple vehicles simultaneously, largely increasing efficiency compared to the traditional one operator per vehicle model.
With these advancements, unmanned driving will create a new ecosystem of shared transportation, and the autonomous driving industry will enter the stage of full commercialization in 2025, said Robin Li, Co-founder, Chairman and CEO of Baidu.