Baidu has unveiled its latest innovations in autonomous driving at “China Speed” on stage at CES 2018 in Las Vegas, including the release of Apollo 2.0, the latest iteration and most robust version yet of the company’s Apollo open autonomous driving platform.
At its press conference, “Baidu World @ Las Vegas 2018” on Monday, Baidu announced its Apollo platform has brought together more than 90 partners, and revealed collaborative progress with global companies such as Udacity, Microsoft and TomTom.
This latest Apollo iteration marks the opening up of all four of the platform’s major modules – cloud services, software platforms, reference hardware platforms and reference vehicle platforms. The Apollo platform is highly dynamic—so far it has amassed more than 165,000 lines of code and approximately 65,000 lines are added each quarter.
Baidu said that it will fully support four main computing platforms — NVIDIA, Intel, NXP and Renesas in 2018; introduce a more cost-effective sensor solution; support more reference vehicles such as minibuses, SUVs and trucks; and provide a wider range of high-definition map services worldwide.
AutonomouStuff, a U.S. startup supplying autonomous system components, used Apollo 1.0 to create waypoint autonomous vehicles last July and upgraded the vehicles to Apollo 2.0 within one week, enabling daytime and nighttime driving on simple urban roads, fully demonstrating the flexibility and usability of Apollo 2.0.
Baidu has previously announced plans to work with partners on mass-producing autonomous vehicles. Chery Automotive, together with Baidu, will mass produce Level 3 autonomous vehicles by 2020, and Baidu also plans to mass-produce driverless buses for designated areas by the end of July 2018 with Chinese bus manufacturer King Long.
Apollo has gathered more than 90 partners, including some of the world’s leading forces in autonomous driving. Representatives from Apollo’s global partners, including Udacity, Microsoft and TomTom, announced their cooperation plans with Baidu on Monday.
Microsoft Azure will provide intelligent cloud services in markets outside of China for the Apollo platform and its partners, with Apollo’s simulation functions available first on Azure to global customers. TomTom’s HD maps will be pre-integrated into Apollo, enabling developers to access TomTom’s latest HD maps data and to accelerate the production of autonomous driving. Baidu and Udacity also jointly announced the launch of Apollo’s autonomous driving online courses, which is designed to lower the research and development barrier to entry in the industry.
Apollo announced its first overseas expansion on Monday into Singapore, following a joint venture and newly established $200 million fund, named “Apollo Southeast Asia,” between Baidu and Singapore technology conglomerate Asia Mobility Industries (AMI). The joint venture will focus on the full spectrum of autonomous driving and intelligent transportation through direct investment into advanced mobility projects, technology exchange, the establishment of research programs, and the commercialization of Baidu’s autonomous driving technologies in the region. Through the fund, Apollo Southeast Asia aims to attract strategic partners to join the Apollo open autonomous driving platform.
Baidu also launched the Apollo Global Institute on Monday, in a bid to further promote the growth of global autonomous driving talent by leveraging Baidu’s technology centers in Beijing, Shanghai, Shenzhen, Silicon Valley and Seattle.