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Baidu Partners With Automaker BAIC on New Apollo Robotaxi

Yang Ge / Jun 17, 2021 06:34 PM / Business & Tech

Baidu’s long ride to bring its autonomous driving technology to the masses has taken another step forward, with word that industry major BAIC has signed on to make cars using the search giant’s Apollo system.

More precisely, Baidu will work together with BAIC’s Arcfox electric vehicle unit to make self-driving robotaxis under a program dubbed Apollo Moon, according to their joint announcement on Thursday. The pair plans to produce 1,000 robotaxis over three years with Level 4 autonomous driving technology, one step down on the six-step scale from Level 5 which is considered fully autonomous.

Each vehicle will carry a price tag of 480,000 yuan ($75,000) — a figure the pair is billing as highly affordable when compared with the more typical price of 1.5 million yuan for cars with such technology. The move marks the latest extension of Baidu’s Apollo program, which has seen it roll out similar robotaxi services with other partners in Beijing, Shanghai, Guangzhou and Chongqing.

“Compared with its predecessors, the overall capabilities of Apollo Moon will have improved tenfold with a 99.99% success rate of ride-hailing in complex urban cityscapes, allowing for a fully driverless vehicular experience that is equivalent to that of human drivers,” the two companies said.

Baidu is among the leaders of China’s autonomous driving sector, though by no means the only player. Another startup called WeRide, backed by Japan’s Nissan, said last month it is testing its own Level 4 driverless minibus service in Guangzhou and Nanjing, with plans to turn it into a paid service later this year.

Related: WeRide Raises Fresh Capital as It Ponders How to Make Money Off Self-Driving Cars 

Contact reporter Yang Ge (geyang@caixin.com) and editor Heather Mowbray (heathermowbray@caixin.com)


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