With Apollo Go
Baidu Apollo and Shanghai-based laser guidance system developer Hesai Technology have clinched a deal in which Hesai will produce a lidar sensor tailored to Baidu’s fifth-generation driverless vehicle.
The deal comes as Baidu is piloting a paid robotaxi service in Beijing that allows passengers to book rides in vehicles that do not need a human driver to sit behind the wheel.
Automotive lidar uses spinning lasers to scan obstacles around a vehicle as it moves. It bounces laser pulses off surrounding objects and measures the return time of reflected light to calculate distances and shapes.
The customized lidar will boast a measurement accuracy of about 2 centimeters and an object detection radius that is 1.5 times wider than the leading products currently on the market. It will also cost nearly 50% less than ordinary lidar sensors, Baidu said in a WeChat post on Tuesday.
Baidu said that it plans to achieve mass production of its fifth-generation autonomous vehicle in the third quarter of this year. The car will be used for the commercialization of its robotaxi services.
The Beijing-based search giant is pinning high hopes on autonomous driving in its push to diversify a revenue base that is at present largely supported by online advertising.
Baidu CEO Robin Li said in a letter sent to employees after the release of its first-quarter results that his company aims to earn money from its self-driving technology by selling Apollo’s in-house automated driving systems to third-party automakers, bringing its self-made intelligent vehicles to the market and offering robotaxi and robobus services to the public.
Tuesday’s announcement comes just days after Baidu launched its 5G-based “vehicle-to-everything” (V2X) communication technology designed to allow its Level 4 autonomous vehicles to interact with smart road infrastructure like traffic lights and collect real-time data on road conditions such as the location and speed of surrounding cars or objects. The company said that the V2X technology will help self-driving cars detect obstacles at intersection blind spots.
Contact reporter Ding Yi (firstname.lastname@example.org)