The first 100 of Baidu's "Level 4" self driving buses have rolled off the production lines, said Robin Li, chief executive of China's largest search engine operator on Wednesday. The self-driving buses, which can seat up to 14 people, were co-developed by Baidu, which is transforming itself into an artificial intelligence (AI) company, and bus maker King Long United Automotive Industry Co. Level 4 operations means that the vehicles can take over all driving in certain conditions. With no steering wheel and high automation, the buses will be put into use in cities including Beijing, Xiongan, Shenzhen and Tokyo, Li said at the Baidu AI Developer forum being held in Beijing. "They will help with shuttle services around nuclear power stations and senior communities in Japan," for example, said Li. Baidu will partner with SB Drive, a subsidiary of SoftBank Group, to export the self-driving buses to Japan. Autonomous vehicles are a key part of the Nasdaq-listed Chinese company's future as it seeks to reshape itself into a major player in artificial intelligence, in line with China's national strategy to develop excellence in the field.
AI running in the cloud might be the solution to electric vehicles' battery woes, if Bosch is on the right track. The Stuttgart, Germany-based company this morning announced a new service -- Battery in the Cloud -- designed to supplement vehicles' battery management systems by implementing protections to reduce cell aging. It's able to cut down on wear and tear by as much as 20%, the company claims, through continuous analysis of battery status, optimization of recharging processes, and delivery of energy conservation tips to drivers via in-car displays. The first customer is Beijing-based mobility giant DiDi Chuxing, which as of 2018 had 550 million users and tens of millions of drivers on its platform. Bosch says DiDi will equip a pilot vehicle fleet with its battery services in the city of Xiamen.
LG Chem, LG's electric battery making subsidiary, has formed two joint ventures (JVs) with Huayou Cobalt in China for stable supplies of cobalt for making electric batteries. The JVs will help produce enough electric batteries to power 400,000 high-performance electric vehicles (over 320 kilometers with one-charge), the company said. One will produce precursors and the other anode materials. LG will invest 83.3 billion won for 49 percent shares on the precursor JV and 156.1 billion won on the company producing anode materials for 51 percent shares. The precursors firm will be set up in Chuzhou, Zhejiang Province, and the anode materials at Wuxi, Jiangsu Province.
BMW on Saturday showed off the electric, autonomous "Vision iNext" SUV in Beijing as part of a publicity tour in which the prototype car and a stage have traveled around the world in the hold of a Lufthansa cargo jet. The vehicle, with gas and brake pedals that sink into the floor during autonomous driving and touch-screen controls embedded in the rear seat cushion, hints at an electric vehicle BMW could launch among 12 fully electric models it has promised by 2025.
SHANGHAI/HESSEN, GERMANY – Beijing's announcement that it is considering banning gasoline and diesel cars from its smog-clogged roads promises to accelerate a push toward electric vehicles -- a race in which Chinese carmakers have everything to gain. The plan would follow decisions by France and Britain to outlaw the sale of such cars and vans from 2040, to clamp down on harmful emissions. The government did not give a date for the ban, but Xin Guobin, vice minister of industry and information technology, told a weekend forum in the northern city of Tianjin that his ministry has started "relevant research" and is working on a timetable for China. "These measures will promote profound changes in the environment and give momentum to China's auto industry development," Xin said in remarks broadcast by CCTV state television. "Enterprises should strive to improve the level of energy-saving for traditional cars, and vigorously develop new-energy vehicles according to assessment requirements," he said.