China now has 93 pilot projects involving self-driving cars and shared-driving services nationwide, according to KPMG LLP. Some auto-industry leaders warn that developers may be moving too quickly toward testing on public roads. "It has to be based on solid research--you can't just put some sensors on top of a car," Li Shufu, the chairman of auto maker Zhejiang Geely Holding Group Co., said at an autonomous-driving conference in Beijing on Wednesday. The government should intervene, Mr. Li said, and keep unqualified aspirants off the road. In January, it published a draft blueprint for the country's strategic development of autonomous driving as part of a broader plan to dominate the artificial-intelligence business.
Baidu and Zhejiang Geely Holding Group have jointly created a new company focusing on the production of self-driving cars. The search giant will focus on developing intelligent driving capabilities for these cars while Geely, which creates vehicles under the Volvo, Lotus, and Geely brands, will contribute with its automobile design and manufacturing capabilities. "At Baidu, we have long believed in the future of intelligent driving and have over the past decade invested heavily in artificial intelligence to build a portfolio of world-class self-driving services. China has become the world's largest market for EVs, and we are seeing EV consumers demanding next-generation vehicles to be more intelligent." Baidu CEO and cofounder Robin Li said.
Baidu has announced that its fully driverless autonomous taxi service will be hitting the streets of Beijing from May 2, making it the first available paid robotaxi service in China. Its Apollo Go service will initially be available at Shougang Park -- one of the venues for the 2022 Beijing Winter Olympics -- where passengers can travel between sport halls, work areas, coffee shops, hotels, and be available to shuttle athletes and staff during the Olympics. Using the Apollo Go app, passengers can locate a self-driving taxi in the vicinity and hail a driverless ride through a self-service process. Once the car arrives, users are required to scan a QR code and health code on the car for identify verification and COVID-19 contact tracing before the doors of the autonomous unlock. Once a passenger has boarded, they push the "start the journey" button for the ride to begin.
Baidu has already developed autonomous vehicle tech, but now plans to produce electric vehicles in partnership with Geely, the Chinese automaker that owns Volvo and Polestar, according to MSNBC. The idea is that Geely will design and manufacture the EVs, while Baidu, China's search equivalent to Google, will supply the technology. "China has become the world's largest market for EVs, and we are seeing EV consumers demanding next generation vehicles to be more intelligent," said Baidu CEO Robin Li in a statement. China's EV market is getting more crowded every day, thanks in part to government subsidies and rapidly expanding charging infrastructure. On top of incumbents like Tesla and domestic companies Nio, Xpeng Motors and others, other tech companies like Foxconn (with Byton) and Alibaba are jumping in.
On February 18, Baidu released the 2020 full year and Q4 financial report, presenting revenue of RMB 107.1 Billion, and its net profit of RMB 22 billion. Formerly constrained by decline in advertising revenue, the company has re-emerged as fierce competitor in the field of AI, spearheaded with three major applications of DuerOS voice technology platform, Apollo autonomous driving open platform and Baidu Smart Cloud powered by Baidu Brain 5.0. In the financial report, the company scrapped its positioning as an "Internet platform centred on search engines, knowledge, and information" and replaced it with "AI ecosystem company." One month prior to the number release, Baidu had announced the establishment of a smart car subsidiary and reached a strategic cooperation with Chinese automotive giant Geely Group. We know you don't want to miss any news or research breakthroughs.