Baidu Unveils Autonomous Vehicle Without Steering Wheel, Says Will Use For Robotaxi Service

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The brand-new car will be equipped with Level 4 autonomous features that don’t require human interaction.

The largest search engine in China, Baidu, showcased its new autonomous vehicle (AV) with a removable steering wheel on Thursday. It will be used for Baidu’s robotaxi service in China beginning in 2019.

According to a statement from Baidu, the cost per unit for the new model would be CNY 250,000 (approximately Rs. 30,00,000), down from CNY 480,000 (about Rs. 57,00,000) for the previous generation.

“We will be able to deploy tens of thousands of AVs throughout China thanks to this significant cost decrease” during the Baidu World conference, Robin Li, the company’s CEO, remarked.”A time is coming when using a robotaxi will cost half as much as using a taxi does right now”.

The new vehicle will include eight lidars and twelve cameras alongside the car, giving it autonomous Level 4 capabilities that do not require human involvement.Similar to radars, lidars are detection devices, except instead of using radio waves, they employ pulsed laser light.

The new model’s maker was not made public by the corporation.

Elon Musk, the CEO of Tesla, stated that the business plans to begin mass producing its robotaxi without a steering wheel or pedals in 2024 and estimated that a ride in one will be less expensive than a bus ticket.

With plans to introduce its “totally autonomous vehicles” in the US over the following years, Waymo, an Alphabet subsidiary, also showcased a robotaxi last year without a steering wheel.

To deploy such vehicles in the real world, automakers and IT firms all around the world are still awaiting regulatory approval.

When the Chinese government approves it, the car won’t have a steering wheel, according to Baidu Senior Vice President Li Zhenyu, who also added that the new AV can drive just as well as a qualified human driver with more than 20 years of experience.

A number of businesses in China are working to make the widespread usage of driverless vehicles a reality, including Baidu, which in 2017 founded its autonomous driving subsidiary Apollo.

Its competitors in this field include WeRide, which has funding from Nissan and Guangzhou Automobile Group, and Pony.ai, which is supported by Toyota.

Since its inception in 2020, Apollo Go, Baidu’s robotaxi service, has run over 1 million times in ten Chinese cities, and in April, Baidu announced that it has been granted permission to use robotaxis in Beijing that are not operated by people in the driver’s seat on public roads.

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