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.
More Chinese automakers collaborating on EVs -- The automotive industry has entered into an intense era of collaboration among carmakers, technology giants, and even software start-ups, among others. This trend comes as countries, including China, accelerate into increased usage of EVs and AVs. Numerous partnerships have sprouted up in the past year, adding density and life to this ecosystem. Among Chinese automakers themselves, a handful of significant partnerships were made to accelerate the developments of EVs and AVs within the country. In fact, China is shaping up to be the first real test of Big Tech's ambitions in the world of car making.
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 Apollo has partnered with Phoenix-headquartered semiconductor supplier ON Semiconductor to set up a joint studio to explore image sensor solutions for autonomous driving, a move that could give it an edge in developing driverless vehicles. The image sensor, which can be classified by resolution, frame rate, pixel size and sensor format, is considered one of the most important components of a self-driving car's vision system. Baidu did not provide details about the configuration of image sensors it will develop with ON Semiconductor, but said that gaining access to the U.S. company's latest technology could help it provide better services to the partners of its Apollo platform. The Chinese search giant is seeking ways to profit from its Apollo platform which provides third-party partners with access to key technologies for autonomous driving like high-definition mapping, obstacle perception and cloud simulation. The tie-up between the two companies dates back to 2018, when ON Semiconductor announced its accession into the Apollo platform to supply a CMOS image sensor product capable of providing clear images and videos in low- and mixed-light environments.