Baidu begins developing self-driving buses

Posted Jul 5, 2018 by Tim Sandle
Chinese company Baidu has advanced its plans for larger autonomous vehicles, and its new self-drive buses are beginning to enter mass production.
Employees walk past the logo of Baidu outside its headquarters in Beijing
Employees walk past the logo of Baidu outside its headquarters in Beijing
Stringer China / Reuters
Baidu's announcement comes which the launch of the technology company's 100th Apolong vehicle, which was manufactured at a factory located in the south-eastern Fujian province in China. The first wave of vehicles will go into commercial use within Chinese cities. However, the company's longer-term plans are focused on international markets.
According to Baidu's Robin Li, as reported by website New Atlas: "2018 marks the first year of commercialization for autonomous driving. From the volume production of Apolong, we can truly see that autonomous driving is making great strides – taking the industry from zero to one."
While Baidu is perhaps better known for operating one of China's leading search engine, the company invests in a number of technology projects. This includes several artificial intelligence projects.
The Apolong Level 4 autonomous bus uses a software platform called Apollo open platform, which is currently on its third version. The software is built on 220,000 lines of code, and it was built by some 116 global partners. The lightweight bus, which can accommodate fourteen people, uses laser radar, millimeter wave radar and HDR and stereo camera modules in order to safely guide the bus around urban areas. Baidu also plans to incorporate a safety model as well as cameras and computer vision software from Mobileye, a subsidiary of Intel.
For domestic use the buses will operate in Beijing, Guangzhou, Shenzhen and Xiongan, carrying out tasks like airport shuttle services. The buses will not require a driver within a specific geographic area. In terms of global launch, the company has plans for 2019, with the first market to be targeted being Japan.